Saturday, December 29, 2012

Hope your holidays are bright!

A welcome sight for a warp-challenged weaver!
Not to sound all gushy and Hallmarky, but I think I'm having just about the best holiday season ever.  And it's not all the parties I'm attending (though I will be hosting a get-together in a couple of days) as we live kind of far from family and this is a family time--so no parties until the New Year.

Befana was very good to me this year!  As you know, I no longer subscribe to the Santa myth, but have gone back to my ethnic roots in favor of Befana, the little old Italian lady who brings toys to good girls and boys AND sweeps your house.  No soot, no reindeer droppings, no cookie crumbs all over, just a nice stack of presents and a swept floor.  In case you decide to switch, just remember that Befana isn't a milk and cookies kind of gal.  Leave her a glass of decent red wine and maybe some good cheese in case she's feeling a little peckish.

The warp from the back.

My Holiday Surprise was a new-to-me loom under my tree.  Well, actually, a giant box on my doorstep.  I was just coming home for lunch when the Fed-Ex Lady pulled in my driveway and was wrangling this massive box out of her truck. "What's in it?" she asked me.  My jaw had dropped and I looked at the return address and knew just what it was!  My LOOM!  I had been drooling all over my computer looking at this four harness cutie and I guess my husband and Befana must have gotten together to get this to me in time for the holiday!

Just finished this skein of yarn. It is Targhee, Tencel and Angeline
I know I should be showing pictures of her, but Hermione is a little shy and doesn't want her picture taken until she's been dressed.  So that might take a week or two.  I actually got this a few weeks ago, so what was really under the tree on the big day were some new heddles, a 12 dent stainless steel reed and my favorite cottolin yarn to weave with.  Yes, this has been a very nice holiday.
Did I mention warp-challenged?  This is where I messed up the second cross.
All told it was a lot of fun.  I still have a Target gift card to spend and I'm thinking of heading over there to get something weaver friendly or checking online at   They have a reasonably priced adjustable height barstool that might be just the thing for me and my looms.  And they are having a furniture sale to start off the New Year plus, if I find it online I can save the trip, and may qualify for free shipping which is a good thing as it will give me more time to weave.  I've eyed this stool in the store and not only is it adjustable height--a must for a loom--but it is padded, a must for my tush. Their furniture tends to be the put-it-together yourself kind--like my new-to-me loom.  We purchased our new kitchen bistro set there over the summer and really like it.  I suppose putting together furniture is a fact of modern life if you want something inexpensive but nice looking.
The green is header yarn to get the warp ready for the real stuff. I'll remove it after I take the project off the loom. This will be cheery curtains for my studio.

Tomorrow, I have a whole day of weaving fun ahead of me!  I really may stay up late tonight weaving because I don't think I'll be able to sleep knowing I can finally weave on Bella again.  I will intermingle weaving with winding the warp for Hermione, and of course normal stuff like going for a walk, eating lunch and maybe doing some reading. 

So that's it from the Craftstead!  I hope you are all enjoying this holiday season!





Monday, December 17, 2012

Keep twist in the right things

Rambouillet singles spun up
"I'm glad the Mayan apocalypse is before the holiday...I'm not at all ready."  This is what my friend Ginny said during yoga class between breaths.  I was having a heck of a time holding Half Moon Pose without toppling over --okay, it was more like quarter moon pose on me, if you know what I mean.  I had met Ginny some years ago when I was a free woman able to walk my dog in a local nature reserve every morning. Now that I have a full-time job my social life is zip unless I have the energy to venture out evenings or weekends.  So I was glad to run into her at a weekend class at a local yoga studio.  I'd signed up for a class as part of my overall quest for a healthier me.
Voila! Yarn!

"I haven't done any shopping."  We had sunk down into Warrior variations and I was sucking wind, sweat pouring down my face--not a pretty sight at all.  I mumbled something about shopping online. I purchased all my gifts by cyber-Monday, except for odds and ends I pick up at Trader Joe's or the stuff I spin and knit myself.  However, I think it came out more like "muffle wumpy" as I tried to breathe into the twist.

"I don't even have a tree up." By this time I'd collapsed into Child Pose and she was twisting into limberasana.  But it did get me to thinking.  Why exactly do we get ourselves into such a twist this time of year?
I started spinning some merino.

For me, the only twist worth anything is that found in yarn, and possibly a Yoga pose or two.  But, I primarily like my twist in yarn.  I really don't like a lot of twists in life--that just makes knots and anxiety.  So I try not to kink and fold all over myself about things.  Not that it always works, but I do try.

The most twist I'm getting from this year's holiday season is some yarn I'm spinning up as a gift.  Yep, I'm going with the flow and as you can see, I've been fairly productive!
Making progress
So everyone, unless you are doing Yoga, don't get in a twist. Have a Happy Holiday!


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Mad stasher diets

786 yards of purple alpaca
Stash seems to multiply if it isn't watched carefully -- or that's what I tell myself.  It is a lot like gaining weight, a cookie here, a chocolate there and before you know it--yep, the same old story.  I take wooly comfort in knowing that I'm not the only spinner with eyes bigger than her stash bucket.

So we have the Ravelry Group Spin You Stash where I join handspinners to make our Stash-O-Lutions for 2013 and plan to take a good whack at our stash. We do a monthly thread where we show each other how much we've spun and this has been a big help in keeping focused.  I am actually making a small dent in my stockpile! If you spin and have too much stash, come join us on Ravelry!

I plan to spin this Merino braid in December
As you may guess from my imagery, I'm also on a diet--or what we now call a change to a healthy-eating lifestyle because diet is now a bad word. And they are right because I do have to change the way I eat, right down to conquering my love affair with chocolate.  Three weeks into this I can say that fruit really does taste good and this realization has taken 8 pounds off my personal stash. So maybe I'm onto something, not sure yet as all this is in the early learning stage.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Weaving on the Craftstead

Warp on the back beam--nearly perfect.
Since watching a number of YouTube video's on how to warp a loom, my warping success has improved. I was able to very neatly wind the warp on the back beam by separating one inch segments of warp while I wound. The results are nearly perfect on this cotton and rayon blend. I am making curtains in plain weave at 18 dents per inch--a bright posey-pink cloth with yellow stripes.
Snarled at the cross
Sometimes I think warp is like unruly children--running every which way. As you can see above the yarn snarled up at the cross--the  very area designed to keep the threads neat and in order.  This pain was fixed by gently teasing the threads apart.  The yarn has turned out to be linty, the lint will twist and form bonds between the fibers making them stick.  Pulling them apart isn't something that should be rushed. Good thing I decided to slow down!
Snarled spot has been cleaned up.
Perseverance paid off and I was able to pull all the yarn through the snarls, and tease the lint bonded threads apart. I got all the warp threads to line up neatly.
Threading heddles.
Now, I'm threading the heddles in a classic straight twill. I've threaded 1/4th so far and should be weaving by next weekend.
These tomatoes ripened indoors.
  My lifestyle change--ie, diet and exercise routine--has been developing smoothly. Like warping a loom starting a program takes time and numerous steps.  I signed up for Spark People and started tracking my food and exercise.

Tomatoes being made into sauce.


I've been doing a lot of healthy cooking, which makes me glad I invested in a good set of stainless steel cookware from Sur La Table.  This store has The Best Brands At Great Values! Shop Cookware Under $150 at Surlatable.com!  I started with their house brand by buying a small set and have since added pieces as I find I need them, one by one.  My kitchen has limited space, so I try not to buy things I won't use regularly and make do with what I have.  And I want quality.  Whereas other cookware hasn't lasted or pieces  have broken off, etc., my Sur La Table pots will last me even longer than my stash will.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Taking my own advice


Picked fiber in eye popping colors I will blend separately with Firestar,
Slow down is going to be my theme for the next year.  Yep, I'm taking my own advice. As it turns out I have to. Yep, the years of poor eating and not staying up on my exercise has come back to bite me. Fortunately, it was only a small nip so I'm back in business, more or less.  But slower than I had been.  Which is not a bad thing, really.

Craftsteading continues.  Some time back I divide a Border Leicester fleece in three and dyed each portion an eye popping color. I pick by hand and above you can see some of my progress. This will be my next carding project--I will blend each separately with glistening Firestar to make some fun yarns.
My on-loan Ashford Scholar is back on the Craftstead.
To be honest, much of my thoughts will be on diet and exercise. But don't worry, though I will talk about my diet in this blog, this won't become a diet blog because all work and no play makes for yawning readers.  After all, Fiber is my passion! And I have weaving to do and more handspun to make.  I got my old Ashford Scholar back from long term loan!  I'm happy dancing as I forgot how fun she was to spin on and how light and portable she is.  She needs a first name as I think "The Ashford" kind of stinks. Anyone have ideas for a first name that isn't " The?"  I would like it to start with an "A."

One thing I am doing different in this diet though, and I'm proud of myself for this, is that I'm not going to wait until I lose weight to buy new clothes.  This is going to be the slow and steady diet and I'm not squeezing into stuff I grew out of in hopes of  actually fitting into it.  So, I've been on-line at one of my favorite stores Lane Bryant Free Shipping on orders $125 or more which has really great jeans for the (clear throat) Full Figured Woman.  Now, I personally like the curvy jeans, and I like the choice of inseam length. What is even better is the fabric is stretchy and comfy and yes, I can exercise in them--at home, of course--and not have to change my clothing nine-million times just to ride a stationary bike or do 10 minutes of light weights (I did say it was the slow and steady diet). 

That's about all for now.  I'll be writing more later.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Slow and Steady on the Craftstead

Blend of merino and alpaca goes into the carder.
Creating slow cloth reminds me most of the story of the Tortoise and the Hare.  I feel a connection to that hard shelled little guy, plugging steadily along the road while the Hare hops around as the consummate multi-tasker--visiting, partying, along with racing and assuming he'll win. The Tortoise stays focused on one task--racing--and wins. Youngsters gain a lesson on patience and perseverance.

The to-be-carded fiber pile goes down slowly.
I suppose this lesson was best learned in the days when patience and perseverance were needed for just about any job--in the days when all our clothes were hand sewn from handspun and handwoven cloth, back before machines took over the work.  In our fast clothes, fast food, fast getting around, multi-tasking, high-speed everything lifestyle, the simple pleasures of slowing down and getting things done are sadly lost.  A new version of the Tortoise and the Hare, could have the Hare following the race on his I-Pad so he could leave the party in time to dash past the Tortoise over the finish line.

Finished spinning that purple alpaca. It still needs to be plied.
Such is the lesson of our hurry up, get everything NOW lifesyle. At times it would be nice just to slow down and be--to get away from the hustle and bustle and enjoy process.

I think that's why I love Slow Cloth so much, the chance to savor each bit of the process and enjoy the finished project.  Of course, it is impossible to keep up with the hopping-hare productivity of the machine.  If I only wore handspun, handwoven, handsewn clothes I would have about three things in my closet.

A hat being knit from handspun.  This wool started as raw fleece, was dyed, carded and blended.
I'm not advocating some year of wearing homemade or other stunt.  But I am advocating slowing down, savoring. Turn off the TV,  computer, cell-phone whatever that allows us to "multi-task" and enjoy moments of quiet contemplative knitting, spinning, carding and weaving. No, we are not "wasting time" by just knitting and not also catching up on the news. We are instead gaining a necessary moment of peace and connectedness with a reality we've forgotten.

Live for the moment in the world of the Tortoise, surrounded by the peace of ambient noise, and let slow and steady win the race.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Full of Beans

From left: True Red Cranberry Bean, Mother Stoddard Beans, Hidatsa Shield Beans, Mayflower Beans and Black Beans.  Locally grown red cord is in the jar in the back. 
If I had to live off my garden, I would likely starve. Shown in the photo above is the entire yield of shelling beans. My guess is I have four or five cups of beans total.  Most of these are heritage varieties, with the exception of black beans which I love.  My favorite bean is the Hidatsa Shield Bean because it is beautiful to look at--it has a delicate geometric patterning that is distinctive. It looks like a designer bean--or a modern art bean.  The Mayflower and Mother Stoddard beans were good producers and the Maine Cranberry beans are big. This winter, I plan to cook these each separately to see what they are like.
Tomato and mushroom marinara made from primarily farmers market ingredients.
Over the summer I cooked up dozens of containers of Tomato Mushroom Marinara, all of which I froze. Yep, I freeze stuff.  I'm not good at all the steam and stove top business unless I'm cooking marinara sauce to the strains of Pavarotti singing O Solo Mio and sipping a glass of good red wine.  I believe tomato sauce needs to be produced in the correct atmosphere to reach its full potential.
 

Yes! I'm using the cottolin towels I wove.
Time to get the Pavarotti DVD's going again, because enough tomatoes have ripened in my dining room to make another small pot of sauce--probably enough for an evening or two of meals.

In summer, I had to rely heavily on Farmers Market for these forays into sauce making because I just don't have enough tomatoes ripening at one time to support the kind of production I needed to fill the freezer.  We also saved broccoli and beans so we can have a locavore winter. You can see to the left some other plastic containers filled with farmer's market broccoli.  I am experimenting with doing my freezing in reusable containers as I dislike throwing away heavy duty freezer plastic baggies.

Purple dyed alpaca being spun.
Naturally, I'm busy with all my fiber crafts too!  It seems like I've been spinning this locally grown alpaca I dyed purple for a very long time.  I'm making a two ply for weaving so the yarn is fairly thin and yes it is taking a VERY long time.  Or so it seems, but I'm beginning to see the end of the bags of home carded batts.  In the meantime I'm blending locally grown merino and alpaca for another project. Craftsteading never ends. It is a long string of projects that feed into the next in a long slow cycle of living.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Towels, tomatoes and garden investments

Newly finished 8/2 cottolin towels.
Ironing is one of my least favorite activities, right up there with cleaning up a dog accident, so I did hesitate to do the last step in finishing these towels:  getting the iron out and pressing them.  Technically, I didn't have to since I made these for me to use.  I could have just hung them in the kitchen straight from the dryer and that would be that.  Who, after all, irons their towels?

The demands of the beauty shot to post on my blog and Ravelry had me digging out the iron from its place of neglect on a shelf in my workshop.  Above and below are the attempts.  I took 16 photos, by the way, and because of the close quarters of my workspace there was often something unbeautiful in my shot--like an electrical plug or pen.

Cropped to remove odds and ends on workspace.

But they are done, and I have something to show for all this time.  Fringing towels is pretty low-energy work, easily done while watching TV or just relaxing.  Since being sick, I'm way behind in my weaving plans.  Lately, I come home from work and nap, rather than work on warping.

Bout of warp for studio curtains.
I'm still winding warp for Bella, the 60" LeClerc Nilus II jack loom.  Really I should be busy weaving by now.  Weaving is a fairly active hobby and not something to do while not feeling well.  I hope that this week, I'll be energetic enough to finish winding the warp and start putting it on the loom.
Basket of ripening tomatoes

My garden is still producing tomatoes!  I was surprised to finding plants outside with tomatoes turning red.  Along with those I brought inside, I have about 2 dozen tomatoes to cook with today.  I even have a few peppers that were hidden enough by foliage not to be ruined by the frost.

Gardening is an investment, I'm discovering.  I start with some seed or a nursery plant, do the best I can and here it comes producing dividends even well after a killing frost.  I guess the trick is to make a good investment in hardy stock, good soil and a nice sunny place to grow.  It's October and I'm still making homemade sauce, leaving what I've stored up in the freezer untouched!

I hope everyone has a nice week, stays healthy, and thanks for visiting my blog.  I do plan to have a giveaway ready once I've really kicked this cold thing. Keep on crafting and see you next week!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

First frost, first flu, first milestone

Ted picked the tomatoes after first frost.
Life got in the way of my plans to celebrate my blog's milestone of 10,000 hits.  I planned to find some pretty roving to give away to visitors and that has been delayed because I caught a bad case of that awful bug that is going around.  I spent the last week--more than a week really--coughing and sleeping and taking medicine and seeing the doctor as it was that bad.  But I'm pretty much back--though I won't be doing any singing.  On Thursday I completely lost my voice and today only a fraction of it is back.  Feels like a whole week was kind of cut out of my life as I got nothing useful done. 

There's nothing to show for all this time.  When I wasn't sleeping (or coughing) I read.  Occasionally I skulked on Ravelry--anything that could be done from the comfort of an overstuffed recliner where I could nap.  I highly recommend a big stuffy recliner for being sick--from it I could sleep, read, surf.  Mostly sleep under a big fluffly comforter. I could use the end table for water and Ricolah and tissue.  This chair is very comfy. I'm typing from it now and feeling a little like dozing off.

Tomatoes ripening inside.
The frost came over Tuesday night and on Wednesday all the tomato plants were withered.  Ted picked the ripening and the green ones.  We have a big basket o green tomatoes and maybe they will ripen for us.  We have a few that look ready to eat or cook with.

So this week I will continue to take it easy--no heroic feats of weaving for me. I want that bug to go away and stay away. I will dig through my stash for that pretty roving, though and hopefully find it for next week.


Sunday, September 30, 2012

Meet Chloe, my workshop loom

This Structo Artcraft is around 80 years old.
Bella has been asked to share her room.  Set up on a small table in the corner is Chloe, a solid walnut 14.5 inch weaving width 4 harness Structo Artcraft loom.  This girl is probably 80 or more years old and has been with me for the past 20. She's my first loom. I have her exact age on some paperwork that came with her which I ought to dig out. She's a noisy girl with metal sheds, but I've added texsolv heddles (really all I could find at the time in the correct size) and have placed a folded towel under them to muffle the sound. I've decided it was about time I got her out of storage and set up someplace permanent.  A bit of lithium grease on her solid mechanism has her working beautifully.

Little table looms like this are great for "sampling" which is weaver talk for trying out new patterns.  That's what I'm doing above, though I am making the samples washcloth size, figuring I might as well have something useful after all the work.  Despite being much older than me, this loom is still working beautifully.  And the walnut is quite lovely, though not fashionable these days.  I think it would be if people had walnut stain on real walnut, instead of oak.

These little looms are also good for workshops--though I've read on Ravelry that some teachers prefer you bring one of those little 70 pound folding floor looms.  Now these folding floor rooms cost around $2,000, so I don't think so.  And really, I don't care how "fast" I can go on a floor loom (from what I've read going "fast" is equated with learning more--which I find suspiciously stupid).  So, dear reader, if you are at a workshop with me, I'll  be the "slow" one in the back with my geeky little clanking (yet muffled) Structo-Art Craft loom that didn't cost me two grand and which I can unload from my car carry into the workshop on my own.

Lucky me, my garden has not been stingy when it comes to producing jalapeƱo peppers.  I also accidentally purchased two from Keller's Farm Stand, which doesn't help.  I will be chopping these up and freezing these.  Fortunately, I have a box of latex gloves I use when I dye and I will be wearing a pair of those!  The hot in the hot pepper is oily and sticks to your hands--rub and eye and oh boy! So I wear disposable gloves now.

That's all for this week!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Five meter shuttle toss

Chocolate Spice Towels in progress.
The shuttle toss is a sport I've been avoiding as I really couldn't do it well.  I'm pretty sure my loom had decided to pick me last for her shuttle toss team..  It wasn't until reading a discussion about it in Warped Weavers that something clicked.  Now, I'm sending my shuttle sliding through the shed to land on the shuttle race beyond.  It is enjoyable, and smooth and goes so well until I get cocky and send the shuttle shooting  across the full width of my loom to land on the floor beyond.  But that doesn't happen too often as I've learned to contain my enthusiasm or catch the shuttle as it flies by.
 
Perfect toss
The photo above shows a toss that allowed the shuttle to come to a halt just beyond the edge of the weaving--thrown with just enough force to reach it's destination without mishap.

These towels are made with 8/2 organic cotton 60/40 cottolin in the colors Burnt Orange and
Dark Brown from the Yarn Barn of Kansas.  I love the strength and sheen of this fiber as it is a delight to weave with.  I'm hoping for good thirsty towels too.  I'm on my fourth and last towel now and I'm really happy how they are turning out.

This is the same pattern I used for my niece's table runners in black and turquoise reworked to be in autumn colors, (Happy Autumnal Equinox, by the way!), but use a variation of the Goose Eye Block Idea in Marguerite Porter Davison's classic book on four shaft weaving patterns.  I'm really happy with how many interesting designs I can do with four shafts!

We celebrated the first day of autumn with a trip to the farmers market and a half bushel of locally grown broccoli to pack in the freezer.  I also brought a big batch of Roma tomatoes for more tomato sauce. Along with the sauce, I'll be making a couple of vegetable lasagnas. 

And my blog will soon reach 10,000 hits, a milestone I should think.  I'll have to figure out a way to celebrate it!  Any ideas?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Regrouping

Loom for sale

From time to time, I like to pause and think about things and then regroup.  I will ponder the problem for months then make the decision and quickly move on it.  I'm at the "move on it" stage now, which is why I decided to sell my Schacht table loom soon after finishing the towel project I had on it.  I show it above looking good with the new snazzy tie up tape I tried on it when I realized how bad the duct tape looked in my earlier photos. Despite this tie up draw back--which other weavers have experienced on this model loom--it works well.

I do enjoy weaving on this loom and I've mastered the fine art of warping it--well in general I've figured out how to warp. You, dear reader, know warping doesn't always go well for me, regardless of the loom I'm using.  I've had fabulous warps on this loom, including the first time I wove with handspun and a disaster, which was the last one I put on. 

But I've decided to concentrate on 4 harness weaves after studying the book filled with Bertha Gray Hayes' overshot designs.  Between this and Marguerite Porter Davison's A Handweaver's Pattern Book, I have a lifetime of weaving designs to work with.  I need to set aside "shaft envy" and concentrate on the core of my interest.  Since I already have a little four-shaft Structo Artcraft loom to take to workshops, I really don't need a 20 inch 8 harness table loom.

So, it is time to release this lovely maple loom to another weaver.  I've advertised it in several places and haver recently reworked th pricing to make it more affordable.  The loom with a 12 dent stainless steel reed, warp sticks, homemade raddle that fits to the back beam and a 640 stainless steel heddles installed is $450, negotiable.  Optional accessories include a 6 and 10 dent stainless steel reed for $35 each and a cute little boat shuttle with 10 bobbins for $25.  These all reflect substantial savings from the new price.

 The 20 inch width is great for someone who wants check weaving out because you can make useful things on it like placemats, towels and scarves. I've made towels with it and cloth for a pillow, so it works really well.  Yes, the tie up thingies slip, which is why it has tape on it.  But this happens on other Schachts of this era and I learned the tape trick from another weaver who had one at a fiber show.  I want to give full disclosure of this drawback.  The friend I brought it from used a system of wooden beads and I once tried those little adjustable clips like you find on winter coats to hold the ties, but I've settled on the vinyl tape method. 


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Call of the looms

A recent project used the entire width of my Leclerc
Weaver's call it OLAD or Obsessive Loom Acquisition Disorder.  There is a woman in Denmark with 23 looms--though she uses them for teaching, and someone in Wisconsin who built a whole ranch house for her collection--though she has recently destashed quite a few.  Some weavers refer to their "herd" or "flock" of looms and I know I'm not the only woman checking Craigslist and the Spinners and Weavers Housecleaning pages to see what equipment is for sale.

But the truth is, how many looms does one woman need?  Or better, how many do I need?  I have my four shaft LeClerc in it's own bedroom and an 8 shaft Schacht taking up an entire table in my workshop.  My Structo Artcraft is in the garage as I don't have room for it.

Last week, I spent a lot of time weaving on the Schacht, completely forgetting the warp on my LeClerc.  This week, I'm on the LeClerc. I just figured out how to throw a shuttle and that's a step forward for a new weaver.  The problem is, my other loom is neglected.

Despite this, I still find myself trolling through the Warped Weaver's Marketplace and other websites looking at looms for sale.  Do I have OLAD?  Yes, I do.  A mild case, I suppose as I haven't purchased one yet.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Tension on the learning curve

My 8 harness Schacht table loom with obnoxious warp.
I'd been putting up with some pretty obnoxious warp lately--I have trouble warping my little 20" 8 harness table loom and this time the tension was crazy--all uneven with loose threads and threads so tight they snapped when I tried to do something about the loose threads.  I realize now what I need to do when warping it.  I was actually moving right along with weaving on this unpleasant web and
 might have finished it, when the ol' light-bulb clicked on.
Warp undone from the back beam.
I started with the back, unwinding and rewinding the warp.  This move wrecked the cloth on the front of the loom so I cut that off mid-towel.  I will zigzag the edges and use it as a fancy rag in my workshop.  I pulled about a foot of warp through the reed and retied it to the cloth beam.
The cloth beam retied with even tension.
 This turned out great, and I placed a picture above so you can admire it.  This whole process took me about one evening, though I started it one evening and finished it the next with time to spare.  Now weaving on the loom is very enjoyable as you can see below.

Weaving goes better with even tension. The red header is handspun.


At first, I thought I wouldn't enjoy weaving on the table loom because there are no convenient treadle tie ups moving multiple shafts with just one push.  But I'm really coming to enjoy the levers. I have a fairly simple system of posting the lever numbers for each row on the castle and just pulling each row and weaving.  I find it both relaxing and enjoyable and I don't seem to get lost as easily.  The last thing I need to do with this loom is master warping it so I get a nice even tension. I'm planning to use this loom to weave my runners for the Ravelry Warped Weaver's weave along, so wish me luck!  It's always nice to show off something that looks decent.

Today, we did another foray to the farmer's market and now I have two pots of marinara sauce on the stove. I know it's a lot of work, but the tomatoes were a great deal and this winter I'll have all these easy meals ready to go! That means more time for weaving. Yeah!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Eating locally is a lot of work

Black beans from my garden
Shelling beans are one of the things I'm trying out in my garden this year.  Black beans are among those I'm growing and I'm pleased with how they are turning out.  I have a small patch and above you can see the 3/4 cup I harvested so far.  Yep, that's a long way from self-sufficiency, but then it is good to know how to grow them.  I will give them more space next year.

Among the shelling beans I'm trying out are Maine Cranberry beans and Old Mother Stoddard's and a couple other heirloom varieties you can't readily buy.  The Roma beans are full of flowers, and I'm looking forward to a September crop.  I'm waiting on the others, patiently.  The cranberry beans really took off, I'm just waiting for some beans to show up.

This fresh garden produce became a sauce for ravioli Friday.
The garden has been really good so far.  I even have zucchini, but not yet in legendary quantities.  We had quite a few when we got back from vacation, and we grilled a big bunch ate some, froze the rest.  Grilled Zucchini is great on pizza or chopped up in wraps.  I like regular zucchini cooked up with tomatoes and other vegetables with lots of garlic, fresh basil and oregano and serve it up on pasta.  Sometimes I put a little Alfredo sauce from the local Italian grocery to give it a kick, or mix it with white beans, chicken or shrimp.  I could figure out a way to eat pasta everyday.

While my garden is feeding us everyday, the farmers market is filling the freezer.  I purchased a bushel of green beans to freeze (I love green beans!) and a bushel of tomatoes.  The tomatoes are going into making the basis for assorted pasta meals by creating stewed tomatoes with mushrooms and spices.  I've only put a dent in that bushel too, though the green beans are put up thanks to help from the DH. Eating locally is a lot of work.

A lot of work, but worth it especially in the tomato department.  The tomatoes I froze will form the basis of a lot of really quick meals in the future.  Working full time and my love of weaving take up a lot of time.  The time I spend in the kitchen today will pay off in the months ahead.



Sunday, August 12, 2012

What I did on my summer vacation...

View down the Rapenburg, a lovely canal in Leiden, the Netherlands.
Two weeks ago, I was standing right where this picture was taken, looking down this beautiful canal in the small Dutch city of Leiden.  It is a lovely little town with narrow streets, plentiful restaurants with tables outside on the cobblestone streets or moored barges, and lots of interesting things to see and do.  Much of what we did was family oriented as my sister, niece and nephew-in-law all live there.  My husband and I loved every minute of our stay.
Narrow Dutch houses along the Rapenburg across from our hotel.
The Netherlands is extremely pedestrian friendly, and we roamed everywhere on foot. For side trips we took the train which, thanks to my sister's help, we quickly got the hang of.  My niece led us on a bicycle trip to a little town on the North Sea.  We loved that there are bicycle paths everywhere and, in fact, it looked easier to get around via bicycle then car.
When this Pub is open there are tables on the barge. We spent some time there.
Our room at the De Doelen Hotel was spacious and had a huge windows with plenty of light streaming in from both sides.  It also had a long narrow flight of steps up to our floor, for which I am thankful considering the amount of beer I consumed, some of which was at the English style pub right across the street.  We spent some sunny hours on that barge quaffing a pint or two.
We did a lot of walking on streets like this.
Leiden is full of cool narrow streets which my husband and I explored thoroughly to the point where I kind of felt like maybe I'd lost a centimeter or two wearing down my legs.  Comfy shoes are real important because those ancient uneven streets can take a lot out of you.  And then all the museums and churches we visited, and the side trips to places like Amsterdam and Delft. Vacationing can mean serious exercise when you do your touring on foot.
We came upon this little place just in time for a beer.
My husband and I both love beer and we were in the right part of the world to indulge this hobby.  My niece and nephew-in-law provided us with a crash course in Belgian Beers at a restaurant called Olivier's.  We also found a few of our own places to sip Trappist ales as we explored charming side streets. We came upon this little bar that had a really good Belgian beer on tap and a lovely interior.  A popular snack at bars like this is a plate of cheese and here we enjoyed tasty sharp Dutch cheese produced on a nearby farm--so we got to be sustainable too.

A visit to Delft and the Royal Delft factory and museum was a must.

I was also impressed by the number of little stores, most of them appearing to be small independently owned businesses, including two well stocked yarn stores. I purchased quite a few skeins of sock yarn and some new knitting needles.  I found some size 0's that are the best sock needles I've ever used.  We also found a great art supply store where we picked up some sketch pads to do a little drawing with.  Leiden was Rembrandt's hometown, so we were a little bitten by the bug.  We also did a bit of shopping in Delft too which has a similarly cute downtown. 

Yes, we saw a windmill! Climbed up in it too.


.We also visited a windmill that had once ground corn.  Stairs are steep in the Netherlands, but these were wooden ladders in some places. The museum restored the living area of the millers family and we could climb to see the working of the mill.  It was a workout climbing up and down, which was good considering all the food and drink I was consuming.  Besides tooling around Leiden, we took sidetrips to places like Amsterdam and Deft and saw lots of museums, churches and more.

The Grand Place in Brussels.
Our next stop was Brussels.  We were so charmed by this little city, that we skipped a sidetrip to Bruges, figuring we would visit on a future trip.  We found the Grand Place, which is lovely, and went to the nearby Delirium Cafe where they have 53 Belgium beers on tap and hundreds more in bottles.  Their beer catalog is the size of a telephone book for a small city.  We stuck with the beers on tap and enjoyed the traditional snack of cheese and bread--in this case it was an entire little wheel of Chimay cheese, which is fabulous, mildly pungent and yum.  Cheese is another of our loves.

Oh, and chocolate!  There are chocolate stores at every turn and we made it a point to try as many as we could and brought some home with us. We would buy a little bag here and there and eat some for dessert or a snack.  We did a lot of walking, fortunately, so I only gained five pounds despite the beer, chocolate, cheese and some really tasty meals. Oh, did I mention the fries?  Belgium is also famous for their fries! They eat them with mayonnaise, but I enjoyed them just plain with salt.  They are really good.

The churches in Brussels were beautiful and one included a display of clerical vestments.  I took a closeup of some of the weaving just so I can blow it up and study it later.  It appears to be silver and silk.  We also visited museums, the Royal Palace, the botanical garden and wandered the streets, watched the Olympics in a little tavern, ate some wonderful meals and so much more.

And now, I'm jet lagged.  I made lunch at 9 a.m. thinking it was around 1 or 2.  I expect it to be some time before I'm back on schedule.