Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Changing My Life!

Wow!  Have things changed since my last post in January.  Back then (it seems like an eternity), I posted on the weight-loss journey and the beginnings of getting fit.  "Getting fit" translated into walking about 4 miles every day in January.  Then it hit me.  A crazy idea I had years ago when my marriage was falling apart and I was transitioning into becoming a single mom.  How about a triathlon?  No!  That's crazy!  I can bike, and I'm a decent swimmer, but I can't run.  Nope!  Not me!  When I was a teen-ager, I could sprint, but I've never been an endurance athlete.  I'm a fast-twitch muscle kind of girl, right?

Wrong.

So we signed up for a couple's triathlon in Austin in July and started training.  Which has led to a crazy bunch of stuff.  I decided I had to learn to run.  I found a cool Couch-to-5K app for my phone and started in... 2.5 weeks before the Shamrock Shuffle 5K which we signed up for, just to get a taste of what a race was like.  I was worried like all get-out that I'd blow the 5K, even though I knew I could run-walk the darn thing, if I had to.

Okay, so I ran-walked the darn thing.  It was cold and overcast the morning of the 15th. We headed out early for George's favorite pre-activity breakfast of a potato-and-egg breakfast taco and Starbucks. I was so cold when we got there that I didn't want to take off my jacket.  Finally, just before the race started, I decided that I'd be okay without it and we stashed it in the car.  We started at the back of the pack, ran through the starting gate and off we went!

Real slow.  At least it seemed like we were going really slow.  We did run/walk it, but I made sure to run up the one killer hill on the course. I've hated that hill for years. I hated riding my bike up that hill years ago. This time I was planning to kick that hill to the curb, no matter how the rest of the run went. So I did.  So there!

We finished the race and headed over to grab water (me), a beer (George) and goodies. The early times were in, but we didn't bother checking. There was no way either of us could have done very well, so we didn't bother. In fact, we were both chilled and decided to leave before the award ceremonies. Which turned out to be a mistake because...

I medaled. Which I still can't believe. I took second in my age category.  I was five minutes behind first-place and third-place was five minutes behind me. For some insane reason, I really, really wanted that medal, so we went to the store to pick it up a couple of days after the race. I don't have an official photo of it, but here I am with my Very First (and probably Only) Medal.

A New Bike
Well, running is all well and good, but there are two more events to a triathlon. After much research and soul-searching about joining a gym, we decided that swimming at our local school-district athletic complex was the best answer for training for the swim. Not much exciting there. No, the excitement was about the bike. A decade ago, both George and I were avid cyclists. However, I've never felt comfortable on my road bike. This had deteriorated to the point where I was almost afraid to get back on her. I rode my hybrid. We rode the tandem. And I was still afraid of the bike. There have been some great advances in bike fit these days and I decided to take advantage of it. I made an appointment to have a fit analysis done.  You know it's going to be an expensive event when every wrench in the shop watches you walk the bike in and immediately says "It's too big for you."  Yeah.  Right there. Something I'd suspected since I bought the bike 15 or so years ago.

The guy doing the analysis (a great guy, by the way) figured that we could get the fit better, if not perfectly dialed in. We opted to have the refit done and left the bike there. And then thought about it. Honestly, knowing what I do now, I probably wouldn't have spent the money.  But I didn't know that then. So we started looking at other bikes just to look, you know. To make a long (fun!) story short, we bought me a new bike. I cannot tell you what a joy it is to have a well-fitting bike! My old bike does fit better since the refit, but the new bike?  Wow!  We bought me a Specialized Ruby Sport, a women's-specific design, carbon-fiber bike. Definitely not the top of the line, but definitely a good bike. And  joy to ride!
And here she is!  Meet Terpsichore, Kori for short. She's named for the Greek Muse of dance and dance music. She dances along the road happily.

We've gone back and forth about a triathlon bike. For the moment, I'm going to ride Kori in both the Couple's Triathlon in July and the SpaGirl Triathlon in a few days.  We'll see how it goes from there.

So did you notice?  I signed up for a second triathlon. The SpaGirl tri is a women's-only short distance (a bit shorter than a sprint triathlon) race. It's held at the Mariott resort north of town. The swim is in their "Lazy River," a glorified pool with Clear Water!! The bike ride is 10-miles with a few hills, but shouldn't be too big a deal. The run is 2 miles and, by golly, I've been training! We'll see how it goes, but I think I can do it. Anyway, a triathlon with mimosas instead of beer afterwards?  Yeah!  I'm in!

So there's running class, finishing the C25K (Couch to 5K) program, running shoes, swim practice, the Fiesta Wildflower bike rally (42 miles) and a major life change. We run 3 miles six mornings out of seven. We try to get in a bike ride most days and 2 or 3 swims a week. I've been slowed down by an ear infection. We're trying to keep up our demonstration schedule on top of training. But we're doing it.

And I signed us up for two half-marathons.  Yeah.  13.1 miles each. I can only run 3 miles at the moment, but hey!  I couldn't even do that two months ago, so I betcha I can train up to run 13.1 by the end of October.

I've got lots of other news, but I'll post this for now and add more later.
See you out there!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Back to the Blog - Fitness

I simply cannot believe that it's been over a year since I've posted to my blog.  I do tend to use Facebook more than my blog, but that's no excuse.  So!  What's been happening since my last post??  I've been weaving - not as much as I'd like to.  I've been teaching - and I have some really wonderful students.   But 2014's big event was finally getting serious about losing weight and getting healthy.

Mostly, I belong to the school of "don't talk about dieting - nobody wants to hear about it."  So this is probably the only time I'll blog about it.  I don't know what triggered it in 2014.  I'm not even sure there was a single triggering event.  An influencing factor was the new owner of Yarnivore, the yarn shop where I work and teach.  Caryn is a lovely lady, yes, but to see her deal with physical issues that I don't even remotely have to deal with kind of kicked me in the rear.

Yoga
Caryn inspired me to start in with yoga to recover flexibility.  So in February, I started practicing yoga at least once a day.  I kept this up for about six months and I need to get back to it.  Going to classes usually doesn't work for me.  If I have to leave home to do something, I typically won't do it for very long.  I found a great app for my iPad, Yoga Studio. I fixed up one of the upstairs bedrooms for yoga and meditation and found my old yoga mat. Starting out was a nightmare of stiffness and pain, but slowly I started to see results.  Then something in my head went "click" and at the end of June, I decided that my weight was awful and it was time to do something about it
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Weight Watchers
Over a decade ago, I was advised by my doctor to lose some weight and to give Weight Watchers a try.  I took her advice and dropped down to a really good weight for me.  However, I didn't learn to eat smart.  I depended on Weight Watcher's frozen meals instead of re-learning how to cook.  Then 9/11 happened.  I lost my job, was a single mom and didn't have the money for Weight Watchers.  I dropped out and started packing the pounds back on again.  In late June, I decided to give them another try. Again, since I typically don't stick with anything that requires leaving home, I knew I wouldn't do meetings.  There's an online option now, which is just what I wanted.  I decided that this time, I'd re-learn how to cook, cook more of our meals at home and start getting some exercise.  I splurged on some new Weight Watchers cookbooks, have learned to stir-fry, and am generally a much better cook than I used to be.

George has done the diet and exercise with me, and we've both seen excellent results.  We've also discovered San Antonio's system of hike and bike trails, which is simply excellent!  We've gotten back on the bike, to a certain extent, and started walking much more.  As a little stocking-stuffer gift for Christmas, he gave me a Pivotal Tracker 1 fitness band by Pivotal Living.  And thus launched:

The Saga Of The Fitness Bands
Pivotal Tracker 1 (top), VivoSmart (bottom)

Take 1: Pivotal Tracker 1 from Pivotal Living

Pivotal Living's business model is a little different from other activity monitors / fitness bands.  You pay a $12 annual subscription and get the band for free.  There is a smartphone app that syncs with the band but no other way of viewing the data.  The app is supposed to be available for iPhone and Android devices.  The system is closed and does not interface with any other system such as Weight Watchers or My Fitness Pal..

Okay, the Pivotal Tracker is not a good choice.  It was launched before it was ready.  I think it was rushed to market in an attempt to catch the Christmas and New Years Resolution wave and as a result, had worse than a rocky launch.  The Android app is very bad, several of the features either don't work or are poorly supported and, worst of all, the initial band has some kind of hardware issue.  I should probably get over my fixation with Pivotal, but I'm experiencing a kind of morbid fascination with watching a train wreck.  I wish I was getting my PhD in Business,though, because I think I could get a dissertation from this particular train wreck!

So, real quick - a review of Pivotal Living's Pivotal Tracker 1

The product consists of a band and a phone app.  It currently (as of this writing) supports iOS 8 and Android 4.4 (Kit Kat).  It does NOT support Android 5.0 (Lollipop), which most new devices are running.  (For example, I'm contemplating upgrading my Samsung Note 2 to a Note 4, which won't work with the Pivotal Tracker.)  There is no webpage to view or manage data.

This is what the band/app should do:

  • The band can function as a watch, showing either 12-hour or 24-hour time.
  • The band tracks steps, distance, calories burned, minutes active and percent to goal.
  • The band has a sleep tracking function, although it is not automatic.
  • The app should pull this information from the band and also allow manual entry of hydration and weight.
  • The band can serve as an activity reminder and an alarm clock.  We have no idea if these work or not as we don't use them.

This is what is really happening:

  • Probably the worst problem for all users, iPhone and Android - the band randomly resets, losing all the data accumulated since the last sync and resetting the clock to midnight.  It also sometimes changes the time from 12-hour to 24-hour.
  • Due to numerous band resets, the time cannot be trusted, so it's hard to even use it as a watch!
  • When the band is working, it tracks steps, but the algorithm is a little wonky.  For example, it typically tracked around 50 to 100 steps before I got out of bed in the morning.  I don't sleepwalk.  Since George took the band over and compares band info with MapMyWalk, the steps vary but not consistently.  Sometimes it records more steps, sometimes fewer.
  • Minutes active is very wonky.  There's no way to manually start an activity. Apparently, the band has some way of determining when the wearer is active and it's very hit-or-miss.
  • Sleep tracking on the app is hard to understand. The sleep range is 12am - noon - 12pm, regardless of when you put the band into sleep mode or take it out.  And yes, noon and 12pm are the same thing.  The graph is so small that it's hard to see what's going on - even on a Note 2 screen which is very generous.
  • Percent to goal doesn't work on the app.  The band (when it doesn't reset) gives it, but the data doesn't sync.
  • At least with the Android app, syncing is very hit-or-miss - mostly miss.  I could get it to sync, but I had to nurse it along and frequently had to hard stop the app and restart it to get it to work. George has had fewer problems with the iPhone app, although it isn't always smooth either.
  • A bad problem is the lack of customer support.  It's gotten some better in recent days, but it's still lacking.  An example of this is the band reset issue.  Pivotal Living says that the bands are resetting due to static in the user's environment.  They will replace the band one time, at the user's expense to return the band.  Returning the band is around $6 - half the price of the annual subscription.  They do not guarantee that the replacement band will work any better since the problem is the user's environment.  Hmmm... So the resetting band is the customer's fault.  As you'll soon see, I have a different band in the same environment and have no problems. And even if it IS the customer's environment, that means that the band is still unusable... at least for those customers in those environments.
My band never had the reset problem from when I started using it on December 25th through George taking it over and using it to mid-January.  I read many, many accounts of other users having the reset problem and thought that we just got lucky.  Pivotal Living says one in five of the bands have the static issue.  One in five is 20 percent!  That's a high failure rate, folks!  And I know of at least one customer who has never reported the problem through social media.  Are we the only ones?  I doubt it.  On January 13, in the middle of the day, George noticed that the band was in sleep mode.  He didn't do it (he doesn't use or have any interest in the sleep tracking).  We wrote it off as a fluke or an accidental setting and went on.  The next day, January 14, the band started resetting and has never worked reliably since.  Some days it will go without a reset, others it resets several times in the day.  As a note, it doesn't seem to matter if it's a warm day or a cold one.  There may be some correlation with humidity levels, but I've not taken the time to track it.  Apparently, once something happens to the band, whatever it is, whether static or some other hardware issue, it is irreversible and the band cannot be trusted.

As of this writing, George is still using the band.  He hasn't decided whether to send it for a replacement or give up on it and buy another device.  My tolerance is much, much lower.  I bought another band.

Take 2: VivoSmart from Garmin


Since I have an Android phone and was increasingly frustrated with Pivotal's buggy app, we did some research and found a band that had the features I liked in the Pivotal Tracker band.  In addition, there are many more features I wanted as well as an app that worked with my Android phone and a very nice web dashboard.  I chose the Garmin Vivosmart.  We got it on sale at REI, bundled with a heart rate monitor.  Now, I've never used a heart rate monitor and wasn't sure I'd like it, but for $30 more than the band, why not?  I've used it on several long walks now and really do like it.  The Vivosmart itself has had a rocky start (although nowhere near as rocky as the Pivotal).  I did have some initial issues with it getting going with the Android app, but it works very well now.  As of this writing, it supports iPhone and Android 4.4 (KitKat).  There is some question as to whether or not it supports Android 5.0 (Lollipop).  I'll be sure it does before I upgrade!

Vivosmart Showing Steps Over Daily Goal and Goal


This is what the band/app/dashboard should do:
  • The band can function as a watch,  You do have to double-tap it to get it to show the time.
  • The band tracks total steps, goal and steps remaining to or steps over goal, distance, and calories burned,
  • The steps goal is intelligent. It formulates a goal based on age, gender, weight and reported activity level.  It automatically adjusts the goal based on how many steps you take during the day.  You can override the automatic settings, but I find them very reasonable.
  • The band has a sleep tracking function, although it is not automatic.  The graph is readable on the smartphone, but it's really useful on the web dashboard.  You can see a minute-by-minute breakdown of your sleep.  For example, I've noticed I tend to go into REM sleep at the same time of night, regardless of when I went to bed.
  • The band has an activity tracker, though it's not automatic either. If you put the band into activity mode, you can see the activity stats by moving the band up, as if to read a watch.  This isn't 100% reliable, but it's pretty close.  The activity will upload as a separate event into the smartphone app and web dashboard.  The web dashboard allows you to edit more information about the activity, such as naming it, tying it with gear (I keep track of miles on my shoes, for example) and assigning a activity type and category to it.
  • In addition to the above, the band can notify of the receipt of phone calls, text messages and emails, if it is within Bluetooth earshot of the smartphone.  It can also be used to manage the volume of the smartphone's media player if it is within earshot.
  • The web dashboard allows weight entry.  I can't remember if the smartphone app does or not.  I tend to enter it into the web dashboard once a week when I enter it into Weight Watchers.
  • The band can serve as an activity reminder and an alarm clock.  I honestly haven't used the alarm clock, so I don't know if it works.  The activity reminder certainly does!  If you don't move within an hour, it reminds you, and then reminds you every 15 minutes thereafter until either you move or it resets itself and starts over again.
  • The band can sync with other ANT+ devices.  The heartrate monitor is already paired with it, if you buy the bundle. The heartrate starts showing as soon as I put on the monitor and will be tracked and reported during an activity. I'm contemplating getting a cycling monitor to pair with it as well.  
  • The smartphone app is very nice, but I really love the web dashboard, which I use for studying the results of what I'm doing.  The web dashboard is customizable, allowing me to see only what I want to see.
  • The VivoSmart comes in three different sizes and five (I think) color combinations.  The Pivotal Tracker comes in one size.  You can see how much too big the Pivotal Tracker is for me in the photo above.
You only get one list because it does everything it's supposed to do!

One thing to note: Weight Watchers advertises that it can now sync with Garmin (and other) activity trackers.  The Vivosmart definitely can't be used with Weight Watchers.  This isn't a problem for me as the web dashboard makes it very easy to enter my activity numbers into my Weight Watchers tracker.  If, at some time, I decide to leave Weight Watchers for My Fitness Pal, it will sync.  At some point, Weight Watchers may decide to fix the bugs with syncing.  From what I understand, other fitness trackers aren't well supported by Weight Watchers either.

If you've made it this far (and you're brave if you have!) then I must say that the initial $12 investment has had some amazing results.  George and I are walking about 4 miles every day.  We do have a rest day now and again, but we're out and exercising much, much more than we were.  We're also contemplating a walking marathon - 26.2 miles.  We'll see if we manage it!

So there you are!  A review of two activity monitors and a very involved peak into what's going on around here.  Next post, I'll go back to weaving.  Stay healthy this year, everybody!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Making Little Waves!

There is a thread in Ravelry's Warped Weavers group called OLAD Strikes Again.  OLAD, or Obsessive Loom Acquisition Disorder, is something that apparently strikes weavers.  We seem to have a need to add more looms to the herd - more than we can ever weave on. Whilst browsing the Warped Weavers Marketplace, yet another group dedicated to acquisition and destashing of looms and equipment, I came across an ad for a Gilmore Mini-Wave.  The Wave looms are primarily warp-faced band looms.  They can be used for inkle, card or tablet, band and bead weaving.  I've had my eye on the Mini-Wave, but I really had no use for one as I have two inkle looms already.  But there was one in the Marketplace, looking like it needed a new home...  And so she's mine!

Gilmore Mini-Wave Loom
She arrived on Friday - a long teaching day for me.  George brought her to the shop around lunchtime, but I couldn't do more than look her over.  Saturday and Sunday were pretty much devoted to the Kid N Ewe fiber festival in Boerne, but I did think about a first project for her.  I've been looking at the Josephine Knot design in The Weaver's Inkle Pattern Directory.  It's done in a technique that might not fit so nicely on the Mini-Wave - at least not for a first project.  I used the same chart in a different technique and added little green and gold cables to the side, and classic inkle bars on the outside.  I opted for fall colors - again, because I love them and it's what I had in my stash.

After only a couple of tries, I got the project warped on.  The little loom takes some getting used to.  Also, the green Perle 5 cotton I used for the braid pattern wasn't as thick as I thought it would be.  I had to unweave, untie, unbeam, and add doubled threads for the pattern.  That could have been a disaster, but it worked out okay.  I got the loom set back up again and took off.  I've decided I love this little loom!  She'll probably be my inkle loom of choice.  I'm not a huge band weaver, but I do enjoy some pick-up work.

And here's the band in progress:
Celtic Braid Band
It will probably be made into a small bag to be attached to an narrower inkle band I wove a couple of years ago.  I'll use it at work to hold my badge, phone and other small items that I always seem to need.

But I'm really looking at a huge computerized loom...

Monday, November 4, 2013

Weaving Like A Celt Yet Again!

Weaving like a Celt is apparently something we do quite a bit.  The 2013 Austin Celtic Festival has come and gone and we have a mostly-finished tartan on the loom, a full bobbin of spun yarn and lots of happy memories!

This is the first year we've used the rug and bench pads - I barely got them finished in time.  Here is the booth set up and ready to go on Saturday morning:

George and the Booth
I am SO glad I made the pads, especially, as we were much more comfortable this year than we have been in the past.  I now need to finish the bench pads for my studio weaving benches.  Here's a close-up of the spinning wheel and its rug:

Now add one spinner and you get this!

We were especially fortunate to have Cassandra with us on Saturday.  This may be her last demonstration with us as she's moving on with her life.  On Sunday, we had two friends come who innocently thought they were going to drop by to see us and then enjoy the rest of the Festival.  They stayed and worked almost all day!  Chris worked the loom and Patrick the spinning wheel, freeing me up to do presentations.  Such a luxury!  Thanks to both of you!

So now I have to come down off my cloud and get back to work, both the day job and the studio.  Although I don't have photos of it, the tartan is coming out beautifully.  I adore the Maine Line 2/20 and will probably use it extensively in the future.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Weaving, and More Weaving!

Oh, argh!  I haven't posted since August?  (And I honestly had to be sure it wasn't August of LAST year!)  I admit to neglecting the blog for my Facebook and Pinterest pages.  Which probably isn't a good idea.

So!  What's going on?

Mostly weaving, which I'm sure is a huge surprise to everyone.  From most recent to oldest:

The MacAskill Tartan
MacAskill Tartan On Loom
Demonstration season is upon us again!  This year's offering for the Austin Celtic Festival is the MacAskill tartan.  It's being done at the request of the Festival organizer.  Although it's not the oldest tartan - and remember, almost all tartans are less than 200 years old - it's one of the prettiest.  We're using a new thread this time, JaggerSpun's Maine Line 2/20 wool, which is much finer than we've used before.  I'm very pleased with how it's weaving up and am looking forward to getting it off the loom and finishing it.  I think the hand and drape will be very nice.

Rugs and Upholstery
The Rep Rug On Loom
I swore I'd never weave a rug.  I had no interest in rug weaving at all.  When we bought the Glimakra, we bought it from a woman who used it to weave rugs.  Included with the loom were several shuttles specifically for rugs as well as several spools of rug warp.  I almost sold the shuttles, thinking I'd never use them. Fortunately, I didn't.  I recently bought Tom Knisely's master weaving e-book from Interweave.  At first, I couldn't even think of a good reason to buy the e-book.  He specializes in rugs and I had no interest, right?  One of the rugs appealed to me, mostly because of the colors.  I've also been interested since I wove the rep towels from Custom Woven Interiors.  I liked how her rugs (and towels) had an overshot feel to them.  Since I've had so much fun with blocks, I decided to use Tom Knisely's colors and adapt an overshot pattern to rep weave.

I took the Snowballs section of the Wahoo Blossom and Snowballs draft from Marguerite Porter Davison's A Handweaver's Source Book, entered it as a profile draft and then converted it to rep. I admit to making a few mistakes in it, but it's working and I love it!  I warped on enough to get a nice-sized rug and enough upholstery fabric for bench pads for all my looms.

George took this photograph.  He loves the look of the project from below the loom.
You're seeing the underside of the rug wrapped around the beam, the rug border just above the beam and the right side of the upholstery fabric angling down toward the knee beam.

Breaking All The Rules
Breaking All The Rules Christmas Scarf
Schacht Spindle Company just came out with a little goodie for their rigid heddle looms.  The new Variable Dent Heddle (they call it a reed, which it isn't) allows the use of multiple thicknesses of yarn in the same warp. I grabbed one of those at the beginning of the recent Hill Country Yarn Crawl.  I also grabbed a skein of La Boheme in Christmas colors.  La Boheme is an interesting yarn.  It's two strands used as one and one of the strands is mohair.  Now, mohair presents lots of challenges in weaving, when used as a warp thread.  Mohair is very fuzzy and wants to cling to the threads next to it.  There are ways to get around the fuzziness, but if you decide to use the mohair in blocks, as I did, prying the warp apart is something that has to be done in almost every shed.  Slow, but workable.  Then I chose a red sock yarn with an almost velvet look to it.  The red is so rich.  I don't even like reds, normally, but this is a gorgeous sock yarn.  However, sock yarn has lots of stretch and the La Boheme has none.  And I mean NONE.  So tensioning the warp is a challenge.  And I figured that if I'd come this far, I might as well go for broke.  I chose a white, fine laceweight silk/mohair blend in white.  And yes, it has all the mohair fun.  The green and black accent yarns are sock yarns, but they didn't add to the challenges.

But I thought, what the heck, if I'm breaking rules, let's don't stop there!  I left about 18" of warp unwoven in the beginning, then wove the scarf, then used the beginning warp as the weft to weave off the end of the scarf.  All well and good, but how to you put tension on a warp if you've disconnected the beginning of the weaving?  Sew the fabric to the apron rod of the loom about three or four inches from the fell line, tension the warp and go for it!  This gave me a scarf with no beginning or end.  It's not exactly a circle, but it's all connected.  What a fun technique!  I'm very happy with the resulting scarf
The End As The Beginning
Weaving for the Kitchen

I finally did some weaving on the rigid heddle loom to be cut and sewn into items - in this case into two potholders and an oven mitt. My assignment this time was to produce fabric with a mixed warp and not to buy any yarn for it.  All the yarn was hanging around the house, either leftovers from other projects or yarn bought for projects that never happened or something.  There are four yarns in this project, a dark green cotton, a light green cotton, a green/purple variegated chenille and a lavender cotton/wool blend.  The lavender cotton-wool had the most yardage, so I used it for the weft and for a few threads scattered throughout the warp.  All the others were used in the warp.  I'm very pleased with how the items turned out!

Weaving on the Antique Loom
Norse Kitchen Towels on the Sabina Loom

Remember the entry about restoring the old Loomcraft Sabina?  The post is here: The Sabina Weaves Again.  Well, the poor Sabina has been put away since that time as I had no room to unfold her and use her.  At long last, I've started working on the upstairs - converting it into studio space.  We cleared enough room for the Sabina to be brought upstairs and unfolded.  She's in the same room with the Glimakra.  I decided to put a pretty overshot set of towels on her that I've been wanting to weave for some time: Norse Kitchen Towels from Marguerite Porter Davison's A Handweaver's Pattern Book.  I decided to use a 16/2 cotton-linen blend that I will probably NEVER use for warp again.  It's a little delicate and very sticky.  The Sabina has a somewhat anemic shed and warp threads are breaking.  However, that's not the loom's fault and I have another project ready for her whenever I finish these towels.

And that's it for now!  I will TRY to be better about updating my blog!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Got Lots of Catching Up To Do!

Guess who has neglected her blog??  I try to keep my Facebook page updated, but my poor blog hasn't had an update in months!  Spring is our busy season, of course, with the most demonstrations, but here we are in the latter part of the summer and no updates have happened.  So here we go!

Well, I'm obviously weaving my little fingers to the bone, although at the moment, not as much on the big looms.  A Schacht Zoom Loom came home with me in early July.  Since then, I've made two bags for it (one for me, one for the shop), a notions bag (for the shop) and two baby blankets (one for the shop).  The little looms are versions of the Weave-It looms from the 1930's.  I have two of the original Weave-It's, as well as a Loomette loom from the 1940's.  I've woven projects on my antique looms, but for some reason set them aside.  Although the antique looms are plenty strong enough to weave on, I do worry about carrying them around.  If I drop the Zoom Loom, no biggie.  So here is a photo of all my hand looms with the yellow / variegated baby blanket I finished a few days ago.
Katie Ann with the Looms!
From left to right are the Loomette (1940's), the wooden Weave-It, the resin Weave-It (both from the 1930's) and the Zoom Loom.  Showing the looms is my mother's favorite doll from the 1940's.

Here's the blue checkerboard blanket I made for the shop.
Blue Checkerboard Blanket

Both blankets have a crocheted edging I got from a 1930's booklet.  Here's a photo of the detail:

Edging Detail

Here's a photo of the first bag I made to carry the Zoom Loom and all its stuff:
The Zoom Loom and its Bag
Making squares on these little looms is a bit like eating potato chips.  You really can't stop with just one!  I've got lots of other ideas for Zoom Loom projects.

Navajo-Style Weaving... from a Cherokee Point of View


The Loom and Me
But before the Zoom Loom craze got me, I was taking some time to do more Navajo-style weaving.  George finished my big Navajo loom.  Of course, by "big" I mean "bigger than the miniature looms."  The loom isn't big enough to weave a full-size rug on, but it's plenty big for me.  The first project.. didn't happen.  I probably made every possible mistake warping it.  I completely removed the warp and started over.  The second warp went on just fine, but it took a few tries to get the design working the way I wanted it to.  The design is a cross between a classic Two Grey Hills design and "Arizona," a song I loved from the 70's.  So that's why I'm using... colors of green and grey instead of more traditional colors.  This is as far as I've gotten:
Arizona Rug on the Loom
So why "From a Cherokee Point of View?"  I'm not Navajo at all, but I do have two Cherokee ancestors. I have a great deal of respect for those two women and I wish I knew more about them.

More Overshot Designs
After finally working through Madelyn van der Hoogt's Block Weaves DVD, I decided to play with some designs from Marguerite Porter Davison's A Handweaver's Source Book.  That book has been following me around for 30-plus years but has been a bit difficult to use. Analyzing the drafts as blocks really helps and makes it easy to convert to more modern weaving drafts.  The first one is a re-work of my favorite Soldier's Return draft.  I made it a little smaller to fit on a scarf and then wove it up in blues and turquoises that reminded me of our trip to Florida and diving in the Keys.  Here's the scarf:

Soldier's Return Scarf

I have lots of other projects waiting in the wings, but I need to finish up things currently on the looms.  I'm weaving another Orange Peel scarf to photograph for the draft available in my Etsy shop.  Once the scarf and Joseph's towels are off the loom, I have lots of new projects getting ready to go on!

And maybe it won't be so long before I do another blog post!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

An Easter Story

I hope it isn't too sacrilegious to post this story, but I am so pleased.  Three years ago, in spring of 2010 my climbing American Beauty roses were finally mature enough to put on their once-a-year incredible bloom flush.  It had taken me four years to grow the roses from gallon pots to climbing from the ground to the deck and then to climb over the trellises above the swing.  They were awesome.  Here are some photos of them that year:
Climbing American Beauty Roses (2010)

Roses from the Side (2010)
 Then, you may remember, my next-door neighbor cut all my roses to the ground.  Darkness kept her from cutting the second of the two American Beauties and my hysterical screaming kept her away from my roses the next day.  It has taken three years, but the roses have grown back up and look like they're going to put on the same show this year.

2013 Climbing American Beauty Roses
Just a few of the roses have opened but the majority of the buds have broken color.  I'm expecting them to pop this week or next.  Exciting!  The horticulturist at the Antique Rose Emporium (which has since closed its San Antonio location) told me to put Rose Tone on them and pray back in 2010.  I did and they lived.  Bless them!  I think they may be the only plants that she cut back that did live.

I recently reread Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden. It was one of my favorite books as a child.  However, I didn't realize how much it influenced both my ideas of gardening and my ideas about religion.  I think I may have finally achieved something like my own Secret Garden.  Today's photos didn't turn out as well as I'd have liked, but here are a few of them:

Tamora
I only have two hybrid tea roses in the garden.  They don't do as well in South Texas as I'd like.  Mostly, I have David Austin roses and antiques.  The climbing American Beauty roses are antiques.  Tamora is a David Austin rose.  Here's the garden:
The Secret Garden
Again, not the best photo.  I'll try to get more when the Beauties bloom.