Sunday, May 26, 2013

My new-to-me Loomcraft!


My new-to-me Loomcraft
 Drum roll please! And here she is Lucinda, aka Lu-Lu, my new-to-me loom!  She has 8 harnesses so now I can try out some more complicated patterns.  I'm itching to get a warp on her, except I am still winding a warp for my big loom upstairs.  Once that is done, I'm winding up some shiny threads for a bunch of festive holiday table runners!  More on that latter.

I've started a new weft color on these towels.
In the meantime, the homemade bench that came with this loom is sitting behind the Fanny as I weave away at a new color on that 12 yard towel warp.  I love the way the red is turning out.  I will weave a couple of towels and then start on another color.  Love the bench too.  Once the DH finishes setting up his workshop, I'm bringing home some lumber and building a second bench!

Flax planted in the garden.
We decided not to do a regular garden this year--you know lots of tomatoes and peppers and such.  So I decided to try some flax.  I stopped by Whole Foods this morning and picked up some of the two types of flax they sell in bulk--one golden and the other the brown type.  I planted both of them in the bed shown, though in back I did plant some climbing beans.  Rain is expected tonight, and I am looking forward to seeing if I can actually grow my own flax, prepare it and spin it into linen. At the very least, I'll have a bed of pretty blue flowers.

That's about all for today.  I need to get back to my weaving!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Look what came home with me!

The Jeep was filled with goodies.
 Just a smidgen of a detour on our vacation--a mere swing into New Jersey our our way to upstate New York from Chicago, allowed me to stop and pick up the lovely loom packed behind the two fleeces.  I stopped at Raveler ABBQuilts house in a lovely part of New Jersey to pick up an 8-harness 30 inch weaving width Loomcraft loom.  Loomcrafts are no longer made, but are much like Gilmore looms, a brand I had also been admiring.  Now I've been wanting a smallish 8 harness floor loom for some time, so I was pretty excited when I realized our May trip East would bring us to within a few hundred miles of this loom.

My husband is a sweetheart and he was more than glad to make the detour.  And meeting Amy was really fun too.  She's a lovely person and we had the kind of great chat old friends have.  So if you wonder why I love Ravelry so much, that's one of the reasons!  There are great people on that site.

Still putting it together!
So here is my new-to-me loom partially put together in her new spot in my family loom.  I still need to put the back beam and the other thing--sorry forgot the name.  We just got home and I'm still stuck under a big pile of laundry.  I will finish putting her together tomorrow.  Her name is Lu-Lu by the way, which is short for Lucinda, as all my looms have old-fashioned names.

I now understand why weavers refer to their loom collection as their "herd."  They are big and unwieldy things.  While you can have a flock of spinning wheels--cute and small like Shetlands unless you have those big walking wheel Suffolk type, looms definitely come in herds.  They are like cattle or buffalo lumbering through your life, living room, spare bedroom, bonus room whatever.  Of course, normal people are scratching their heads wondering what on earth I would do with more than one loom.  Normal people who haven't been stricken with OLAD--Obsessive Loom Acquisition Disorder.  I consider my case fairly mild as I only buy looms I'm fairly certain will fit in my space.  Plus, I sold one loom to make room for this one.  Yes, I suppose I am rationalizing, aren't I? A sure sign of the severity of my OLAD.

And then there's the fleece.
You've all heard of SABLE--Stash Acquisition Beyond Live Expectency--and as usual I'm outdoing myself. I visited Mary Pratt of Elihu Farm while she was skirting some fleeces for the upcoming Memorial Weekend fiber fair in Cummington, Mass. I found myself perusing the stack of fleeces she had already skirted and came across a couple of lovely ones.  Actually, I came across a lot of lovely, but limited myself to two.  The gray one above is one of the mixed bloodline finer fleeces she has.  I love to spin these.

Some yummy Romney.


And then there was this really pretty white Romney fleece.  I just love Romney and those ridged locks like a pile of non-fattening crinkle fries!  I will completely enjoy working with this one. So yep, I will be busy and staying completely out of trouble as I work in my studio/home.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Silly walks

Those of you who are fans of Monty Python, may recall a skit by John Cleese, The Ministry of Silly Walks, in which he would be out on the street dressed in a suit and carrying a brief case doing, well, silly walks.  This is pretty much what was on my mind when my personal trainer, Julia, asked me to cross the gym doing long lunges and cross it again backward!  Yep, that look on my face was not concentrating on form but concentrating on not laughing.

The other day she had me squat with my hands in front of me and make little bunny hops across the gym!  Not even John Cleese got that silly.  Then there is the sideways cross step back and forth, which almost seemed kind of normal.  The clincher of silly walks I've done in the name of fitness is to walk across the gym with my arms straight out in front of  me while trying to lift my knee to arm level.  Monty Python, eat your heart out!

Though silly walks tend to be helpful, I discovered that after getting up from, say, reading, a bout of silly walking is a great way to get the blood flowing and the muscles flexing in the legs!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Measuring tape tells all

Getting fit is a lot like having a big pile of wool to card.
Braced for the worst, I went in for my first monthly fitness check and learned some important lessons. I was pretty much expecting disappointment having learned to dread the scale from weekly weigh ins of one popular diet plan.  As you read in last week's blog, my body has a way of sticking to one place on the scale.
This time I learned something new.

First, I discovered I gained two pounds of muscle, and lost four pounds of fat.  Now the net on the scale doesn't look like much and is pretty much what I complained about in last weeks blog. The measuring tape, however, told a different story. I had lost one inch of circumference.  ONE INCH!  Now that's a lot!  I'm psyched.  And it shows in the benchmark photos Julia, my trainer, took. Nope, not showing them here. I'm still big, but an inch less big.

The other exciting news was that I rocked the fitness benchmarks and improved my ability to do things by about one-third.  For instance, last month I could only hold a plank for 40 seconds and this time I held it for 75 seconds!  And I went from doing 16 of these difficult squats to doing 24 in one minute.  I was able to walk a treadmill mile in 1.5 minutes less then a month ago.

These are all big milestones the scale did not tell. I had been kind of skeptical about taking benchmarks other than weight, feeling it was just a waste of time/just one more thing to do.  I was wrong.  It is the smartest thing anyone trying to get healthier can do. I am now a firm believer. Forget the scale, get a measuring tape. A stop watch too, for measuring how many sit ups and push ups you can do.
If you keep at it, the pile is bound to go down.
In the past, a two pound loss in one month would have had me running for some comfort food.  Instead, I find myself rethinking my diet and wondering what I should change so I can improve my results even more.

Today was a great day for bringing my spinning wheel outside, and with the spinning a chance to reflect.  There are a number of behaviors I could change.  Like, do I really need a beer when I'm sitting outside on a beautiful spring day?  Why can't the soft breeze, green grass and bright flowers be enough for enjoyment? Plus, a glass of water is really nice and thirst quenching and doesn't put me to sleep.  The other thing I did today is grill a bunch of chicken to eat later in the week with salads. Delicious especially since I coated them with Cajun seasoning!

I illustrated this blog with what I've been up to this week--mainly carding the last of my merino/alpaca blend. I have used up all the alpaca, and what you see in the second picture is the merino I have left.  I almost have an entire fleece processed!

Readers, if you are trying to get fit, don't let the scale get you down.  It is fairly useless in determining how you are doing.  I may be down only two, but I am one-third fitter, one inch thinner and looking forward to beating those numbers next month.,