Meet Laurel the Lion

Growing up my mom had a big loom. In fact, she still has it. I have no idea what kind it is or how it works, I just know that it’s comparable in size to my upright piano and that it makes rugs if used correctly. While as a fiber artist I’m definitely interested in weaving, space is a real issue for me with my crafts. I don’t have a designated craft room just random spots where I stow my tools, library, and stash around the house. For this reason, weaving has always just been off the menu for me. I know there are a number of wonderful smallish looms, but I have just resisted falling down that rabbit hole.

Then a few weeks ago, I was asked if I’d be interested in trying Schacht’s Zoom Loom, a 4×4 pin loom. I popped onto The Woolery‘s website to see what it was all about and was immediately intrigued. A loom that could easily fit into my life — perfect! It also helped that my 9-year-old son has been showing a lot of interest in the fiber arts and was equally excited to give this loom a… well, to give this loom a zoom.

Within the week, I received my very own Zoom Loom. zoomZoom! Zoom!

To try it out, I got one of The Woolery’s insanely adorable Swatch Critter Kits. These awesome little kits come with everything you need to create your selected critter save the stuffing.

Photo courtesy of The Woolery.
Photo courtesy of The Woolery.

Comprised of beautiful Mountain Colors yarns, these kits are the perfect way to take your Zoom Loom out for a spin. For my first kit, I got Laurel the Lion. I say my ‘first’ kit because I have two kids, so at some point there will most likely have to be a second kit, probably the dragon — a fact about which I’m not complaining!

In any case, after a few squares made out of my own scrap yarn (of which I have plenty from Socks with Sarah!), I started in on my squares for this majestic little loveable lion.

loom in actionBelieve it or not, I did most of the work on this project outside in my Adirondack chair. This loom is such a great little tool for beginners as well as those on-the-go — the instructions are even molded-in the loom’s frame making it super user-friendly, especially for newbies like me.  The folks at Schacht really thought of everything with this portable little loom!

When it came time to wash & full-up my squares, as usual I had a helper.

helper She decided to name each of the 16 squares while we were washing. For the record, she named all of them Nigel (no joke).

dryingWe reshaped them and laid them out to dry in the evening sun. I certainly could have made this blocking process more exact and I did straighten them a bit more after this photo, but I was anxious for them to dry quickly and since I knew I’d be sewing them up I wasn’t too concerned with the appearance of the edges.

And once they were dry, I got to the business of forming a lion out of 16squares of woven wool.

20140728-190448-68688486.jpgI started with the body & the head.

20140728-190449-68689925.jpgThen there were the legs & tail.

backAnd then all those little details.

20140728-190451-68691942.jpgAfter all, it’s the details that make these little toys special. See that long tail on his left eye? Well, it led to a little inspiration…

eyesLion-lashes. Yes, my Laurel the Lion has luscious lashes. I’m not usually much of a toy maker, but at this moment I fell in love with Laurel. How could I not?

meow Isn’t this little guy just adorable?

maneater smallWhen I showed him to my husband, he thought he should definitely pose on the “Maneaters” book. He does look mighty fierce!

I’d promised this toy to my son and his reception was slightly different.

boy&hislionHe just gave Laurel a big hug.

For anyone interested in trying the Zoom Loom, The Woolery is hosting a Zoom-Along during the month of August with the Swatch Critter Kits or even a critter of your own design! This Zoom-Along is being hosted on The Woolery’s Ravelry Thread — share your experience, take your Zoom Loom for a zoom, and enter to win prizes.  Not only will you get to try this awesome little loom, when you’re done you could have a face like this looking back at you.

eyes How can you say no to this face?

Summer Is In Full Swing

As a child, summer meant tramping about my parents’ homestead in and out of the woods. Swinging on the jungle gym. Shooting basketball out front. Laying in the grass & watching clouds. Picking peas from the garden and eating them on the rock overlooking the little waterfall created by the artesian well run-off. Of course, it wasn’t all play. I spent many afternoons whining incessantly about picking potato bugs off the plants in the garden and running in terror from all flying insects that surprised me (thanks solely to a bee that opted to cling to the very line-dried towel that I chose to sit upon after running through the sprinkler — clearly the experience didn’t end well for either of us). Even as a teenager and college student when I was working, while summer always meant long hours those evenings were always so peaceful at the beach for a swim or on the back porch reading. Summer moved at my pace, or at least that’s how I remember it.

Now years later with kids of my own, summer seems to move so quickly. My youngest is raring to start her homeschooling not just immediately, but yesterday.

20140628-151148-54708245.jpgShe even found a new spot to study.

We are also preparing for upcoming vacations. The kiddos attended an art camp this past week & have been popping over for activities that come up in our local library’s summer program. And of course, there are traditions to uphold. One such wonderful seasonal traditional for the kids and I — like many of you, I’m sure — is to go strawberry picking. We have a farm not far from our house that is quite large and in addition to the novelty of picking berries, you get a lift to the field on a four-wheeler outfitted to haul 4-5 people at a clip with their strawberries. Usually the kids prefer the ride to the berry picking, but this year my daughter was a berry-picking machine. The result? 20140628-151141-54701572.jpgAbout 10pints of freezer jam, 5 or 6quart bags of frozen berries, and still about 6cups left for strawberry shortcake. While the shortcake I made from scratch with my favorite recipe was quite delicious, I have to say my outcome of choice was the jam.

20140628-160512-57912771.jpgI don’t know that I’ve ever made jam on my own, but this turned out incredible. I have half a mind to go back for another flat of berries to stock up.

Somewhere in the midst of all the hustle & bustle, I try to give the kids ample time to just play and imagine and create in their own backyard like I did as a girl. And during that time, I get snippets of time for myself. To knit & spin & read a little. I actually really picked up knitting in earnest during the summer when the kids were babies — it was easier to glance up from my knitting than from my reading when watching them. And so the past week, I’ve been working on my socks, of course.

20140628-151143-54703017.jpgI finished up 15.1 for the year & cast-on and got knitting on 15.2. I simply love the yarn — Cloudlover Yarn & Fiber 75/25 sock yarn in Winter Rose. I also have a finished spinning project with some Cloudlover fiber that I haven’t quite gotten around to photographing yet. Hopefully I will get there early next week as I also start to organize fiber for the Tour de Fleece for which I finally signed up for with both Team Cloudlover & Team Dyeabolical. I also changed my Ravatar to this…spinning sarahIt’s a painting my daughter did for me during the last TdF. Needless to say, it is perfect for this event.

I also whipped up a little something in some beautiful Bijou Basin Ranch Himalayan Trail.

20140628-151138-54698783.jpgI will share the finished project and my impression of the yarn (ahem, a-mah-zing!) shortly. Suffice to say I wanted to waste as little as possible and chose a pattern to do just that. This little ball is all that is left! Mission accomplished!

I was even lucky enough to get a new toy in the mail…

20140628-151144-54704548.jpgA Schacht Zoom Loom from The Woolery. I haven’t done any weaving since I was a child, so this is perfect for me and I’ve been having fun playing with it and learning the basics. My son is anxious for me to master it so that I can teach him — it seems his fiber arts interests are reaching beyond his knitting! In any case, with the arrival of my Zoom Loom I decided to clean up all my sock knitting scraps so I have ample selection for practice swatches…

20140628-151139-54699944.jpgIt meant some quality time with my winder, but that worked just fine to fill one unusually quiet morning.

Yes, summer is truly in full swing and it is keeping me quite busy on all fronts. Thankfully, this guy gets his workout from the kids, too.

20140628-151150-54710642.jpgWhat can I say? Some night, I really know how he feels!