Thursday, May 28, 2009

Diet Challenge Update 2

The Crossfit Seattle Spring LEAN Challenge is into it's 4th week, and I have not noticed any major body changes.

I have a couple of friends who say they have lost multiple pounds; good job to them!

I have some theories here about why I am "stuck" at my weight / size:

- the morning 12 oz latte (the ratio I use is 8 oz coffee : 4 oz half & half)

- indulging in things once a week like fruit with heavy cream... (an obvious one!), or

- too much fruit vs. vegetable?

- not enough protein?

- too much fat?

However, I should note that I feel a lot stronger. Here are some recent accomplishments I am proud of:

- I am using the 12 kg kettlebell for snatches now instead of the 8 kg kb

- I did 160 x 16 kg kb swings without stopping last week, and the day after I did 100 kb swings without stopping

- I did 20 x 65 kg deadlifts without resting a couple of weeks ago. This leads me to believe my 1 rep DL max is now beyond 70 kg

- I ran all 5 x 100 m bits of yesterday's WOD (5 rounds of: 7 burpees + box jump, 7 OH squats, and 100 m run). My burpees still suck.

- My OH squat 1 rep max is 25 kg, as of yesterday, which isn't horrible.

In short, I am frustrated because I am not "smaller" - my clothes fit exactly the same. However, I am happy because I'm not any larger, and I seem to be getting stronger.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Accumulations & Accomplishments

My February Lady Sweater is coming along! The sleeve stitches are held on waste yarn, and I have started in on the gull lace stitch for the body... relatively smooth sailing (although I did have to undo a row this morning).

I've also spun a Pygora / silk blend from Peppermint Pastures Pygora. It is 1 oz of 70% pygora / 30% silk. It is soft, and Gorgeous.

I experimented with the long draw method for spinning the singles, letting the twist enter the fiber and then pulling the fiber mass back further. I think it basically worked; the yarn is very soft.

I wound a center-pull ball on my ball winder, and then spun from both ends of the ball to make a 2 ply yarn.

I think it will end up as a cowl or something - small, warm, and snuggly!

Finally, I got off my tuchus and combed out a merino lamb fleece sample my friend Kim sent to me. I think combing was the way to go with this fiber. I definitely had some waste, but the prepared fiber - I hand pulled roving off the combs - is a joy to spin. Crimpy, soft, and lively!


I think it's time for a change.

I think this shelf might be on the sale-block. I love it, but I think I want more room on that side of my condo.

I picked this up on a trip to IKEA last Friday. It's a metal plant stand, with the top shelf at roughly my eye level. Perfect for my orchids, ferns, African violets, and coffee plant:

The "DANGER" tape outside my window is due to the final stages of building reconstruction. I am mired in various chemical smells while the workers lay down the final layers of deck coating. I came home today to a small spray of white sand that had gotten inside my condo.

This is the new bookshelf I also bought at IKEA. I had a couple of these in college, and they were extremely sturdy, so I am not worried about overloading it with books.

There are still a few things I need to work out, like where to put my stereo (I actually want to get the slick Bose one that handles both CD's and iPods), and where to stash my sheet music. I'm confident I will figure something out. I just got rid of another suitcase full of books, too! So liberating. They were mostly chemistry and very basic engineering textbooks that I wouldn't anticipate needing should I go to grad school. The other textbooks I will haul to work and store there.

FO: Hemlock Ring Blanket

Damn, I knit slowly.

I am so glad to be done with the Hemlock Ring blanket, adapted by Brooklyntweed. For many reasons! It is a gift, for some friends who were wed recently (relatively). It is a lovely knit to work, and a lovely finished item. Jared Flood has great taste.

My only regret is not having pins and enough time to let it dry blocking upon my mattress.

Instead, I had to "ghetto-rig" it and use textbooks. The first useful thing they've done for me in 4 years! (You know, except, like, helping me get my job and stuff..). If you look closely, you can see all sorts of knickknacks also being used as blocking weights.

This horrid set up produced a marginal blocking job. It's flat...ish. The blanket is definitely a lap blanket, and two people have to get close to snuggle under it, but that's a good thing, right?

A close up, washed out shot of the lace patterning in the center.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Random Crafting

I just realized I have been fairly crafty in the last couple of days, which warrants some pictures!

First up, an amalgam of craftiness. First, an empty box with the lid flaps razored off! Hoorah! This is intended for a box weaving project. Inside the box is some carded raw alpaca fiber... which gave me a horrific allergy attack Tuesday evening when I processed it! I was sneezing and had red eyes well into Wednesday. The alpaca fleece shown here varies a lot in color. I never pulled it entirely out of the bag to check where the colored spots might be, but there are definite differences. I learned a lot from carding it on the drumcarder. Specifically, that I shouldn't use the drumcarder for this. Using the flick carder on individual locks was much kinder to the fine hair, because I noticed some neps started to form on the surface of the alpaca fiber when I was carding it.

Today, after Crossfit and picking up a pair of zip-off hiking pants I had ordered on sale at REI, I stopped in at the Weaving Works. I picked up a set of weaving cards, a stick shuttle, and the two most recent issues of HandWoven. Should make for some interesting reading! :)

Finally... my Hemlock Ring blanket is finally (almost) done! Can you see the cast off edge at the bottom of the picture?

For the size of the blanket, I went almost to the end of the chart that Brooklyntweed created. I knit to just before the final increase round in the chart (not the final round he used, which is somewhere in the middle of his chart), and then began my binding off.

I am using the basic idea for the picot-edge bind-off that is shown in the original pattern, except instead of making a yarn-over and then turning and making 5 stitches into that yo, I am just doing a backwards-loop cast on of 5 stitches when I turn the work to purl the two flanking stitches (which are k2tog in the initial bind-off row). It makes a bigger picot edge, but I think it will block out fine. I hope it doesn't look cheap! ...It feels really good to be almost done with this blanket. I can't wait to block it and send it off to the recipients!

Yes, I know it looks like a big blob right now, but just wait and see what judicious blocking does to this thing!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Trying New Things

After spending a weekend in Portland with Jeanne, and getting to weave a bit on her Friends Rug, I decided that I would like to try some weaving of my own! (For reference, the portion I wove is the yellow and brown stripe. I also kept weaving after that, and got about 6-7" done before we had to go inside the main house for breakfast.)

Weaving is "teh awesum!" I thought it was great fun. I am now looking at cheap, space-saving options for trying out weaving, to make sure I enjoy it enough before investing in real tools (like giant looms).

One of the LYS' in Seattle, Weaving Works, has plenty of weaving classes. I am awaiting their summer schedule. In the event that I cannot finish a June-series class, I contacted the local spinning guild in Lake Charles, LA (Spinners and Weavers of Imperial Calcasieu), and am hopeful that someone in the guild would be willing to take some time and teach me to weave (and possibly lend me a small loom while I am out there).

Another type of project I have been learning more about is known as card weaving, or tablet weaving. My friend Jen pointed out this project as good for a beginner. The essence of card weaving seems to be that you thread the warp threads through a series of cardboard squares, and between using a stick shuttle to weave the weft in, and rotating the cards, you weave your desired design.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

What I've Been Up To

After pilates class this morning, Kris, Jeanelle, and I went down to Pike Place...

...and walked amongst the Seattle Cheese Festival crowd....


Yesterday, I went kayaking with some friends in the Mercer Slough, off of Lake Washington...

... and I also finished spinning a yarn called "Fire and Ice" (fiber from Traveling Rhinos fiber club)....


Last weekend, I went down to Portland with my friend, Jeanne...

(this is us hiking along Tom McCall trail)

... I discovered several things on this trip, like...

- Jeanne and I have the same wheel
- Jeanne gave me a brief primer in weaving. I love it!
- I want Daniel and I to have a life somewhat similar to Jeanne and her husband's, with respect to quality of life and early retirement, etc.



- Paleo diet, while improving my stomach function and maintaining clear skin, does not seem to be making me skinnier. On the upside, I kayaked "like a windmill" yesterday, coming in about 15 minutes ahead of my friends. I was able to do 20 x 45 kg deadlifts in a row the other day. I could also do 10 pushups while holding my gut in and not touching my knees to the ground (hooray for small triumphs). Soon I can cross the 10 pushups off my "6 month goal" list at the gym.

- I am hoping for an intro to weaving class in June at my LYS. If it doesn't complete before I leave for Louisiana, I did get in contact with the regional guild out there, Spinners & Weavers of Imperial Calcasieu. Hopefully there will be some kind person who would be willing to teach me and lend me a small loom while I am out there!

- The Hemlock Ring Blanket is almost done. Hope the recipient likes it!

- I split off the stitches for the sleeves to my February Lady Sweater. Now it's just straight gull-lace stitch all the way down to the waist.

- I am hoping to process some fiber tonight for spinning this week. I have a goal of working my fiber stash down before I hit up OFFF or Black Sheep Gathering this summer.


What are you up to?

Friday, May 1, 2009


Yup, I begin my 28th year on Earth tomorrow!

In celebration of the day, I took a mental health day from work. I awoke at 6 AM, feeling refreshed, and proceeded to clean my bathroom - plebean, perhaps, but necessary. I then had a gentle breakfast of salami, watermelon, and iced chai tea (sans milk / sugar). Yes, I eat strange combinations of food... After that, I watched the gorgeously blue sky unfold, as the sun had risen around 5:30 AM, and lolled on the couch, reading a fashion magazine.

I picked my friend Kris up at 8:45, and we headed to REI, where I bought several things I had been eyeing for a while. A new tent, on sale for $125, for Daniel and myself. A new uber-comfy dress for myself, for which I used my 20% off coupon. Some running shorts on clearance, as well as a pair of trail runner shoes, a combination bike lock / cable on clearance, and a new pair of eggbeater / normal pedal hybrid bike pedals rounded out my purchases. I have been eyeing these particular bike pedals for a while, because I want to ride my bike around town, but I have eggbeater bike pedals, used to clip in your cycling shoes and make your riding more efficient, which means I'd either have to carry extra shoes around to swap out every time I got off my bike, or I'd end up clomping around in cycling shoes (which have extremely stiff soles, and aren't very comfortable to walk on). With these pedals, I can have the best of both worlds and still use my bike even I am not in my cycling gear, per se.

After REI, we ended up at the Portage Bay cafe for brunch. Kris tucked into a smoked salmon hash, and I had a eggs / bacon / potatoes combo with some buckwheat (gluten free) pancakes. Portage Bay is awesome because, for pancake-type items, they let you have a trip to the "toppings bar", which today included honey-butter, maple syrup, real whipped cream, and an assortment of fresh fruits. I actually only ate about a third of my brunch, and gave Kris the rest to take home to Randy.

After brunch, we went out to Capital Hill and attempted to wait for Bliss soaps to open. They make amazing bath products, but the guy who owns it is not very good about keeping "normal" business hours. They open at 2 PM, and not usually on time. We walked around Broadway (the main drag in Capital Hill), then we went for iced tea (Kris had a beer and a doughnut) at this coffee house, and walked back to Bliss. We left at 2:30 PM, especially frustrated because not only were they still closed, but this is the second time they haven't been open long after we have awaited their arrival.

So, I came home... I then got the mail, and was totally surprised by this!

This was Daniel's birthday gift to me!!! How completely sweet and thoughtful is this?? He bought me a little teapot, with some sencha green tea that the lady in the store down the street from him in Yokosuka said was "Oishi!" *tasty!*. Then a camera case, so I can carry my camera in more than an old sock. And a cute card that he wrote "is rated PG, so we can show this one to the kids one day" and FIVE (5) beautiful balls of yarn from a couple of Japanese yarn manufacturers! :) How awesome is he for feeding my yarn habit? I think they will become scarves or hats - I can't wait! Most of them are made by Puppy, which is apparently a large yarn company in Japan. He even coordinated with a friend of his who used to be stationed in Bremerton and is now in Japan, to send my package out for him, since he was out of time before leaving for his latest ocean assignment. What a wonderful man! :) I love you, darling; Thank you!!


Look! A new sock! I am making the Wanida sock from Cookie A's new book. This is for my friend, Priscila. I frogged the last sock I had been making her; the basketweave pattern was thoroughly annoying me, since it is not one that is easily "readable" in the knit fabric, at least for me, and therefore required too much attention. Hopefully this one will be more successful. I am using Classic Elite's Alpaca Sox yarn (60% alpaca, 20% merino, 20% nylon) for this project - it was in the stash, and the colors looked interesting. I hope she likes it! I figured the alpaca would keep her feet warm in DC winters. :) I should mention that the colors are only slightly brighter in real life (it is a combination of burnt orange, green, and plum).

I also am in the midst of spinning up a lot of stashed fibers. This is a wool / silk blend from Crosspatch Creations. There is some very soft wool, and there is some that is coarser. They also blend in a layer of silk noils, which is interesting but scary because I have to think about not spinning ONLY the noils, making sure to get some wool in there to help bind it together. I am spinning it as a single, fairly laceweight, with some slubs from the noils, and I think I am going to make some sort of scarf / shawl out of it. I am assuming there is at least 150 yards in the cake below (perhaps it's time to get a yard counter?), and I am about halfway through the batt that it is sitting on.

Another benefit to spinning up stash is that spun yarn takes up less space than the fibers do! :)


Plans for my actual birthday include Lazing About, perhaps some coffee, and dinner with a few friends at a restaurant called the Kingfish Cafe. Even though my Diet Challenge started today (!), I am going to have a drink, and some cake.