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.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

March of the Finished Objects

The alpaca in this throw is all handspun.

My flurry of weaving this past few months hasn't quite made it to this website—I showed a hint here or there, but since these were gifts for someone who reads the blog, I had to post discretely. But now I can let out the stops as I gave the gifts to my niece this week so here they are! More on this next week.

The throw is 100% alpaca, the brown is from a fleece grown by Meadowsong Alpaca's in Michigan. The red is a blend of two alpaca fleeces, Manchester and Snow Angel of Wisconsin and Indiana respectively. So this is a tri-state blanket.

Point twill table runner in perle cotton.
Also, there are some pictures of perle cotton table runners. I made two of these, one four feet long and the other six so my niece would have a choice of the look she was going for. I also made some cotton/linen towels. Black and turquoise happen to be her favorite color combination, so Liz gets all the credit for the stunning color combination. They were excellent colors to work with. I decided to throw some red in just to spice it up.

Point twill 8/2 cotton/linen towels.
You will be seeing these colors again when I make her some place mats and make some more towels, but not right away. I have a couple other projects to work on with new warps on both my looms.