Sunday, August 25, 2013

Rat-race redux

Finished threading the heddles! One step closer to weaving,
Re-entry into the rat-race after a week of serenity in northwoods was bumpy.  Plunging right back into maxed out traffic due to the start of school and imbecilic office politics just raised the old cortisol levels and I found myself reaching for the deadlies, sugar.  Sugar as in two bouts of cake, one Ben&Jerry, a row of ChipsAhoy and even leaded soda! That is five strikes and standing on the scale put me up four pounds from my last official weigh in.

This is very annoying.  My sister and I joined Fat Secret and we will be doing a sugar cleanse this week.  As I write I have a bowl of my "power ice-cream" which is not Ice cream at all.  It is:

3 cups of unsweetened soy milk
2 scoops of vanilla Designer Whey protein
1 20 oz bag of frozen blueberries
Zap this in the blender and it makes two bowls.  Frozen, use a spoon, when it melts use a straw.

It also comes in chocolate form which is like this:
3 cups of unsweetened soy milk
2 scoops of chocolate Designer Whey protein
1 20 oz bag of raspberries.
Zap in blender till mixed and you have a treat for two!
No, I don't have a Wooly Winder.  Finshed 8 oz of roving though!
Fortunately, I have been working on my fiber projects, so my spirits are up.  It took this weekend to kind of get my brain back in line again, and free myself from the frustration of all the imbecilic nonsense at my day job.  I don't play politics at work because I have a job where I actually have to work--I don't get a lot of time for trouble-making chit-chat or playing on Facebook (as my 13 friends well know).  But I do have ears and unfortunately, I forget my earplugs.

Today, I spent over an hour at the gym doing my total body strength routine capped with a good dose of yoga.  Tomorrow it will be cardio and yoga. The DH's trainer has him doing these really cool moves on the Eco-Mill treadmill and I want to try themout.  I think it will make the treadmill, well, a bit less of a treadmill.
My prize from being a member of a Ravelry LSG team!
And so today, I plan to spin, weave a few towels, sleigh a reed maybe, dream up super project like bold placemats made with the fabulous cotton I won from an LSG team, bake some chicken ahead for healthy lunches--all that kind of smart stuff.  And stay away from sugar!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Peace in the Northwoods

Camping in the Northwoods
Nothing quite beats a refreshing vacation.  The DH and I just spent a peaceful week camping on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) in Minnesota.  We found this FREE camping spot which was perched just above a lake that entered into the Boundary Waters. We were on the lake but the vegetation obscured it.  Not perfect, but free, private and for the first couple of days we were the only people in this tiny campground.

What you don't see are the kayaks we rented to tool around the lakes.  It was a lot of fun, but the words "canoe area" are a big clue to which is the preferred mode of transport in these parts. Though we enjoyed skimming over the water, and the kayaks were light enough to carry on a short portage, climbing out of the things to get onto shore was awful.  I know the people on YouTube make it look easy, but trust me, it's not.  I couldn't get out of the thing without getting soaked so we had to limit ourselves to one lake at a time and no portages.

Newly edged towels in need of wet finishing.
Thinking of portage, I brought along some towels to finish.  Not only did I do the edges of my towels but I came up with three new mistakes for my book One Hundred Weaving Mistakes to Make and How to Fix Them: Finding Inner Peace While Blundering Along the Weaver's Path.

I added the subtitle because I did a lot of reading at the campsite, in particular Anatomy of the Spirit by Caroline Myss. I am very interested in spirituality and I find her books filled with things to think about.  I love to think, as it keeps me busy while I'm doing things like edging towels.  All this thinking and not paying attention helps me discover new mistakes!

What a yucky hem!
First, there is this really yucky hem I was sewing.  Now what was I thinking? Oh, yah, stuff about chakras instead of a hem stitch should pick up one stitch from above and one below and follow the line of the rolled edge. It should look more like the turquoise towel below, at which point I was paying attention AND thinking on weighty spiritual matters--yes, a New Age multitasker.

A nicer rolled edge.
Mistake #2:  My choice of thread wasn't the best.  I used some of the 8/2 cottolin (cotton linen blend) thread I wove the towels with. I think some high quality sewing thread would have been better--finer and less obvious.  I usually raid my embroidery thread stash for a close match but as I packed for this trip, I had the bright idea of using the thread I wove with to make the sewing as sturdy as the towel.  I  also did a blanket stitch to bind the edge so the towel won't unravel if the sewing comes out.  I will test these towels to see if using this heavier thread helps them wear longer.

The other problem I see is that my rolled edge is kind of heavy.  I wove five rows of plain weave on each side of the pattern to make this edge.  Next time, I will weave only three.  I think this will allow me to make a finer edge.  I won't be sure if the five row or three row edge is the mistake until I make and test my next set!  So stay tuned for future tips on weaving and the path of enlightenment.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Weaving as life

Half-way through warping the loom.
Weaving is an apt metaphor for my life right now.  The craft has a slow start for me, a planning stage of mulling things over and figuring out design followed by the painstaking warping phase.  First the warp is measured out and accurately threaded to create the design before weaving can begin.  I feel like I am in the warping phase of my life right now.

Nine months ago, I was sitting in the emergency room unable to move my hand hoping that the people around me knew what they were doing.  Fortunately, those people did and I was able to recover quickly from what turned out to be a small stroke.  Since then, I've been making significant changes in my lifestyle, but like weaving, there is a lot to it.

My husband and I joined a gym back in March, realizing we needed to make drastic changes.  I took the plunge and signed us up for a lot of personal training and I've been going twice a week for months.  But like warping a loom, the process has been slow and painstaking.  I've needed to build a foundation for fitness and as I've trained and grown fitter, my diet has changed with it.

And like warping, their isn't much to show for all the time.  After four months, I've lost nearly 3% of my body fat and still have at least 20% to go before I reach my target of 25% body fat, which is a healthy place for women. That's a lot of fat to burn.

So I feel like I'm still putting the warp on my lifestyle change.  There has been so much to change foodwise.  I've really had to learn to stop thinking sugar is a "treat." I've had to learn that I'm not depriving myself when I skip that piece of cake, which inevitably turns out to be two or three pieces of cake.  When I "deprive myself" of the cake, I do myself a big favor because I won't feel like garbage later. That wasn't an easy lesson to learn.  Took me a few stupid "treats" before it clicked.

Weaving goes a lot faster than warping.
Today I spent more than an hour at the gym doing total body strength training which I topped off with some yoga and meditation.  Yes, there were times during my circuits when I asked myself, "What am I doing?"   But when I was done, I felt really great--a kind of great I've never felt from food or beer or sleeping late.

I think I'm almost to the end of warping this lifestyle change.  Oh, I may have to do an adjustment here and there, but I think I'll be weaving soon.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Making strides in book research

The warp rolled onto the back beam.
 Yet another chapter of  One Hundred Weaving Mistakes Not to Make, And Five New Ones, is well on its way to being researched.  The warp on the table runners shown above went on with deceptive ease.  Even the postal paper I purchased to separate the layers rolled on without a hitch.  I though I would finally have a blog where I didn't have mistakes!

But, no, I still had the lease sticks to put in!  It turns out that I flipped one of the neat one inch packets of warp when I spread the second cross and tied it to the back beam. Yikes! There it was staring at me laughing "Muwahahaha! Your project is ruined!"  But I remained undaunted and found a way around it, once more  using the "tape" method I used to save the warp on the Fanny.

About 1/4 of the heddles are threaded.
I got out my handy tape and used it to tape the threads into correct order before pulling the two sections that crossed out of the lease sticks.  Then I went ahead and threaded them.  I am using my new-to-me loom the 8 harness Loomcraft, named LuLu which I found on Ravelry and purchased in May.  The design is a 7 shaft pattern I came up with myself using free weaving design software.  I started with a tie up I found in the book 8 Shafts, a Place to Begin, and went from there. I hope to have the loom threaded so I can start weaving next weekend.

This hand-painted Montadale Roving is a joy to spin.

On my Ladybug wheel is the beautiful purple and turquoise roving above.  The "Sleeping Beauty" colorway is the creation of one of the many local wool producers who sell their wares at Esther's Place as part of the Illinois Fiber Cooperative.  This is beautiful stuff and I have an entire pound.  I hope to have enough to weave the warp of a throw.  I would use the merino/alpaca blend I was spinning earlier this year.  This would create a 100% grown and made in Illinois product! I think this will be a first for me, as I purchase so much fleece from Wisconsin and upstate New York.

That's all for now.  I have to get back to threading that loom!