Wednesday, December 28, 2011
I mentioned in my last post that my house had been torn up for 45 days. As it turns out, 45 days is the outside limit of my tolerance for having my house torn up. On day 46, I evidently become a raving lunatic who frightens husbands and small children and causes contractors to back slowly away while laughing nervously.
However, I apparently also become extremely energetic and efficient. My house is entirely put back together, with a new bathroom, new walls, new paint, and new living room furniture. It is beautiful. I am happy. All is well with my world.
My husband deserves (he insists) full credit for talking me off the ledge. He also deserves full credit for moving enormously heavy pieces of furniture all over the house and lighting a fire under contractors who clearly did not understand the importance of getting the damned project done already.
And now I am deeply engrossed in happy knitting. I got this (at my request, and to the accompaniment of much eye-rolling) for Christmas:
This is a full bag of Noro Kochoran, one of my all-time favorite yarns. I really wanted this to make a soft, fluffy sofa throw. I cast on Christmas morning and have been happily and obsessively knitting ever since.
Note the colors. There is nothing about these colors that would appeal to a male--ever--and that is the point.
Every afghan I have made has been confiscated by someone in my family. And while I am thrilled that they love my afghans, I am also cold. I want my own blankie, and this is it. It's like the hot pink flip flops I bought when my black and brown ones kept disappearing. I couldn't keep a pair of flip flops for more than a few weeks. I've had the pink ones for three years. So this is the knitted equivalent of hot pink flip flops.
The pattern is here, and it is free. I used the Kochoran instead of sock yarn scraps, obviously, and size 10 needles. My goal is to knit one ball of yarn per day, giving me a finished 48"x 60" throw in ten days. So far, I am on track. I don't normally set knitting goals, but this is an exception: I want my blankie, darn it!
Friday, December 9, 2011
Once again--as for most of the past month and a half--there are noisy things happening in my house. Today it is a plumber and a drywaller. I had thought the drywalling ordeal was over last week, at least downstairs, after the four days the drywaller spent putting my ceiling and walls back up, texturing everything, and painting the living room and dining room. Then yesterday the plumber came to put in a new bathtub, and that's where things started going sideways. He spent most of the day trying to get the drain to install correctly. When that didn't work, he said he would need to cut a hole in the freshly repaired ceiling to access the drain. So he showed up this morning with the drywaller, cut a hole in the ceiling...and couldn't make the drain work. After a couple more hours, he went out to buy a different drain. In the meantime, the drywaller is twiddling his thumbs, waiting to close up the ceiling. From the sounds in the next room, that is not happening anytime soon.
The drywaller also needs to put up drywall and paint the bathroom, but of course, he can't do that until the tub is in and the new pipes and faucets installed. Again, not happening anytime soon. Since the tile guy is supposed to be here Monday, the drywaller wants to come back tomorrow (Saturday) to finish the walls. There goes my weekend.
Worse yet, I haven't been able to get a tree or decorate for Christmas, or, heck, see the damned floor, and I'm getting really, really antsy about it. Every time I think we're making progress, another monkey wrench gets tossed into the mix. I detest chaos and clutter under any conditions, and being trapped in a house full of it for an extended period is making me more than a little crazy. I am so not cut out for remodeling.
So I've been playing with yarn. A lot. I wove a shawl out of Noro Silk Garden Sock, finished Snowbird, and cast on Tinder. But at the moment, I need the sort of comfort that can only come from gorgeous, squishy yarn and enormous amounts of plain knitting. I cast on this:
This is Malabrigo in Stonechat, and I have a lot of it. I bought it in a destash months ago, planning to make a sofa throw. The time has come. This will be a log cabin pattern, only super large scale. Each log is 12 inches wide, and the final throw will be a single giant block. All garter, size 8 needles. It doesn't get any more comforting than that.
Knitting, take me away! (Bonus points if you can name the reference.)
Sunday, November 27, 2011
My mom liked mine so much, she asked me to make her one, which (being the good daughter that I am), I did this morning.
This may be the easiest project you'll ever do with yarn. Get yourself an 18" wire wreath form ($2.99 at Michaels) and a bunch of styrofoam balls in different sized. I used 12 3" balls, 6 2.5" inch, 12 2", and 12 1.5". This is the most expensive part of the project, since styrofoam is evidently far more costly than I ever imagined. Michaels has the best prices I could find, and if you print out some online coupons, you can get them more reasonably. Grab some leftover yarn in whatever colors you want (or pick up some cheap acrylic while you're at Michaels), and whatever other ornaments you want (I bought a bag of mixed miniature glitter balls at Michaels for $4.99).
Wrap yarn around the styrofoam balls until you can't see any styrofoam and tuck the end a few strands to hold it in place. When all the balls are wrapped, heat up your hot glue gun and get to work! It took me about an hour and a half to wrap the yarn, and another hour to put it all together.
If you have to buy everything, including yarn, glue gun, and glue sticks, this project will run you $40-50. If you already have a glue gun and yarn, and you use coupons for the styrofoam, you can get it down to about $20, which is pretty reasonable. You don't have to use Christmas colors, of course. You could make one in blue and white for Hanukkah, or pastels for spring, or autumn colors for fall, or whatever you want for any time of year.
I suspect my door may be graced with yarn ball wreaths year round from here on out.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
- Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D.? by Gina Pera ...$25.94See suggestions
- You Mean I'm Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy?!: A S...$3.99See suggestions
- Lenard Adler - Scattered Minds (2011) - Used ...$3.58See suggestions
- LIVING WITH ADD - (PAPERBACK) NEW$19.69See suggestions
Do you think they're trying to tell me something?
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
I wove this yesterday:
This is a 9" wide scarf, 8 feet long. And it took me--a brand new weaver--one day.
That includes the warping, the weaving, and the braiding of the fringe.
I used an ugly yarn I was never going to knit, but I think I like how it looks woven. Close up, you can see all the different colors, but from a bit of a distance, it just looks like tweed.
I haven't "wet finished" it yet, mostly because I'm not sure exactly how. From what I understand, wet finishing is the weaving equivalent of wet blocking, except it's more vigorous. The goal is to "full" the fabric to get the fibers to lock together and blend into a unified fabric--so essentially a mild felting. It seems the usual way to do this is to throw it in the washing machine, but I think I'll try it by hand first. After all, it may not be beautiful, but it is my first project, and I'd rather not ruin it right off the bat.
I would totally warp for a new project right now, but my entire stash is currently bagged up and sealed in boxes, so it will have to wait until my house gets put back together. Or until I lose patience and rip into the boxes. Any guesses which will come first?
Monday, November 14, 2011
The chaos in my house continues, and I'm going to blame that.
This is an Ashford rigid heddle loom (24"). I bought it today from a local fiber friend who teaches spinning and weaving. She gave me a free, 2-hour private lesson, and taught me about floor looms at the same time.
Ignore the ugly yarn. It was the result of an ill-advised online purchase several years ago. I'm using it for my first weaving project because it was in the "get rid of" box, which is the only part of my stash I can currently access, due to the ongoing decontamination of my yarn room. Looking at this yarn makes my head hurt and makes me feel like I might have a seizure if I look at it too long. Interestingly, it is much less offensive in its woven state that either in the ball or knitted, which makes me wonder if some of my uglier stash yarn might have a new life as weaving yarn.
The rehab of Sabina the Floor Loom continues, with major effort concentrating on rust removal. I've almost got her in useable condition, but until I get my knitting room back, I have nowhere to set her up...and I guess I'm even less patient than I thought.
Saturday, November 12, 2011
my living room...
and my brand new, impromptu "clean room"...
...would probably be making me crazy. There are are scary loud noises coming from various parts of my house, I have my first cold in five and a half years (thanks to going out to breakfast with my best friend and her infectious preschooler), I lost my glasses somewhere between taking this picture in the living room and transferring the pictures to my computer in the family room, and it's pouring down rain while my kid is at a parade competition with his very expensive and water-sensitive musical instrument. Despite all this, I can't stop giggling. It could be the cold medicine, but I think it's this:
Posted in my living room...and in Spanish, just to be sure everyone who lives in my house understands!
Friday, November 11, 2011
Yesterday a team of mold remediation guys showed up. Very distressing. There was no mold a week ago. Now there is. In my imagination, there is a great, fuzzy, black monster gradually working its way through my walls, eating everything in sight.
The restoration guys are on their way right now to "pack out" the areas that need repair. (Areas that include the fully-loaded china cabinet in my dining room and a 700 pound wall unit in my living room--also fully loaded--as well as most of my knitting room). Tomorrow the mold guys are supposed to start "demolition." And then I have to get the plumber back to replace the plumbing in the bathroom that caused the problem. And all of that has to happen before the restoration guys can start repairing the damage.
Do you think I can get away with a Thanksgiving barbeque on the back patio with paper plates? Because I think that's about all I'm going to be able to manage.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
And I have found a new way to distract myself from the chaos. I picked this up last night (craigslist, $120):
It is marked "Sabina folding loom," made by Loom Craft Studios, Wilmington, Ohio. It came folded up--nice, as it is only about 18 inches deep when folded, meaning it can be stored against a wall without taking up much room. With the aid of some photos printed off Ravelry and the help of my engineer-husband, I got it unfolded this morning.
From the little information I could find online, these were made between 1939 and 1949. They came in at least three different sizes. Mine appears to have a 33" weaving width, judging from what I think are the reeds.
That would be these, I believe. If I'm wrong, someone please tell me. As you can see, there are three of them, and unless I am more confused than I think I am, these go into the beater bar to...uh...pack the weft together (I'm sure there's a technical term for that) as you weave. They are rusty, but don't appear rough or pitted, so I think I can clean them up and use them.
I think these are treadles (this is the back of the loom), and there are six of them, but two are missing the chains that attach them to the things they lift up and down. I think those are the heddles? (Can you tell I know nothing at all about weaving? I ordered a book but it won't be here for a couple of days.)
I mean these things:
The ones with the cords attached on the right side of picture. They lift up when I push on the treadles. What I don't understand (well, among many other things) is why there are only four of them when there are six of the treadles. Anyone know?
The loom appears to be complete, and seems to be in pretty good shape. There isn't anything broken and the wood is solid cherry and appears sound. The hardware is a bit rusty, but still functional.
There is a broken peg on whatever this thing is, but it looks easy enough to replace; it's basically just a dowel with a rounded end.
I'm a little concerned about this part. It came with the loom, but I don't know what it is or where it goes. It is the same length as the reeds, so I suspect it has something to do with them, but it is not obvious to me what it is for.
I'm not at all sure what I am going to do with this. It needs cleaning, which I'm sure I can handle. Beyond that, I'm pretty lost. I've tried to find a manual, but without success. I'm hoping the "Learning to Weave" book I bought will give me enough information that I can figure out how to use it. I do know some weavers in the area, so I have a back up plan in place, and an offer from one of them to come help me warp it the first time. She says that's a full-day operation.
Maybe I should have started with a lap loom.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
And then the Head Guy--I assume he was the Head Guy, since he did the talking while the other two stood in the background looking grave--announced we need to tear out half our walls, ceilings, and flooring. As he went into great detail describing the parts of my house that are now melting into puddles around us and the potential for life-threatening mold and the possibility of asbestos, all I could think, in my cynical fashion, was "yeah, yeah...that's how you make your money, isn't it?"--until he got to the part where he said, "...and that room upstairs with all the...the, um...you know, where you do your...the room with all the yarn?" and I did the human equivalent of what my dogs do when I say the word "dinner." What about the room with all the yarn?!
It's wet, is what. Not the yarn, thank the KG--and yeah, I asked, twice--but the wall. And the floor. My knitting room shares a wall with the kids' bathroom--the same wall the shower is against. And that wall is, according to the Head Guy, "unsalvageable." As is the IKEA Expedit unit that stores the yarn. Again, according to the Head Guy. This prompted me to ask again about the yarn, and I think he finally caught on that the yarn, for some inexplicable reason, is Important. That maybe it is so Important to the crazy lady of the house that it could be used as a bargaining chip to get me on board with the whole, "we have to tear down half your house" idea. Because he immediately began reassuring me that only one corner of the yarn storage is wet, and he personally removed the yarn from the wet section and put it across the room. And, if the insurance company approves the claim, his guys will very carefully box the yarn, exactly as it is in the bookcase right now, by color, and label it, and make sure it goes back where it belongs.
Oh. Okay, then. Carry on. That will be just...Wait. If. IF? IF the insurance company approves the claim? What do you mean IF?!
And so I learned that, despite the thousands of dollars I have paid the insurance company every year for many years to protect my house--and my credit rating--in the event of fire, earthquake, accident, or other disaster, I am not guaranteed that they will ever pay me should one of these things happen. No. This is determined on a case by case basis by...the insurance company.
Am I the only one who thinks this is wrong? I mean, the insurance company is in the business of taking money, not giving it, right? So what possible incentive could they have to pay out money when they have the option of saying, "Nah. That's not a covered loss. Sorry."?
So I am quietly freaking out to the sound of the ginormous de-humidifiers the restoration guys installed on both levels of my house (the knitting room got its very own) while we await the insurance company's decision.
Monday, October 31, 2011
So it's official. The leak is not Something We Can Handle Ourselves. It is, in fact, Something We Need to Call Our Homeowners' Insurance About. And that makes me really, really twitchy. When it comes to home repair, there's not much we can't handle ourselves. On the rare occasion that we need to call in a professional, it has never yet required a call to homeowners' insurance. But the plumber, who came today, used words like "wall buckling" and "restoration expert" and "demolition" and "insurance claim" and "deductible" and all that has me just a little freaked out. I'm pretty attached to my house, and the knowledge that someone is going to be cutting holes in walls and messing with pipes is not making me happy. On the other hand, the fact that the plumber immediately mentioned "homeowners' insurance" makes me happy that we do have such insurance, even though I don't know how much the deductible is, because it sounds like whatever it is, the cost of the repairs is going to be more.
Of course, the fact that my house is going to get cut up, and likely stay that way for several weeks, and it's undoubtedly going to cost a lot of money, and be messy and inconvenient, is not the worst part. No, the worst part is that, until that shower is fixed, I will be sharing my shower with two adolescent males. Bleah.
Friday, October 28, 2011
The wedding book survived the flood mostly unscathed--just a little water damage to the cover and the edges of a few pages, which my husband assures me "adds character." The ceiling, walls, trim, and carpet have dried out, and the damage it mostly not noticeable.
As for the antique table, it was trashed. Really, truly trashed. The KH wanted to just throw it out. He's never been a fan of the table. It's incredibly heavy and has sharp metal caps on the feet that always seem to land on his toes when we're moving it. It has also long had a really ugly finish. To be fair, I don't think it was always that ugly, but it was finished with a high gloss varnish that yellowed over the decades, turning it a sort of shiny yellow-green-brown. To make matters worse, the legs started pulling away from the base many years ago and have defied all efforts to repair them, making it lopsided enough that putting a glass of red wine on it is an adventure.
Despite all this, I didn't want to toss it. Aside from the sentimental value--it was my mother's formal table when I was growing up, and before that, it belonged to an old lady who had inherited it from a relative and had it for decades herself, so it's really old, and I have a weakness for old things--when the leaves are removed and the ends are dropped down, it's the perfect size and shape for under the living room window. In that spot, it's also only a few feet from the end of our regular dining table, which is extremely useful when we have to seat more than eight for dinner. The old table is exactly the same height and width as our regular table, so we just pull it out and set it up end to end with our dining table to make one really long table and toss a tablecloth over the whole thing. With all the leaves in and the tables combined, we can seat 18 people for Thanksgiving, all at the same table.
Also, I love a good project, and I hate throwing out anything that might still be useful. So for the past three days, I've been crawling around on the floor of the garage, revamping the old table. I pulled the legs apart, shaved down the swollen wood pegs, poured in about a quart of glue, and pounded the legs back together with a rubber mallet and clamped it all in place. After it dried, the legs seemed to be totally solid.
Then I stripped the whole thing--not my favorite activity--with chemical stripper and large quantities of steel wool and mineral spirits. I was shocked to discover that the wood under that scary finish is a beautiful red mahogany. I sanded down the water damaged sections as best I could and stained the whole thing with oil based stain. I haven't used oil based stain in many years, because it's a pain, and I wouldn't have used it this time, except that I accidentally grabbed the wrong can off the shelf at Home Depot and didn't realize it until I opened the can. But I'll tell you what: it makes for a gorgeous result. I topped it with a couple coats of oil based polyurethane, and...Wow. The thing is beautiful.
Seeing how pretty is was after its little refurb sparked my curiosity about its origins. A little internet research revealed that it's a Duncan Phyfe style table. Duncan Phyfe was a furniture maker who worked in New York in the late 18th to mid 19th centuries. There are tons and tons of Duncan Phyfe reproductions, but not many confirmed originals from his workshop, since he rarely signed his work.
It is very difficult to tell whether a piece is an original. Some of the indicators are a very old finish (like this, on one of the leaves I haven't refinished):
Beautiful mahogany wood:
Reeded legs with brass claw or paw feet:
Urn shaped pedestals:
And very old, heavy, brass hardware:
Original Duncan Phyfe tables with the original finish fetch upwards of $30,000.
Now, I'm sure this isn't an original and it doesn't matter at all that I let it get water damaged and then refinished it. But dudes, if I'm wrong...I don't want to know.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
I posted on Rav yesterday about my bad day. That satisfied my need to whine, so I really wasn't going to bring it up here. New developments have forced my hand, though, and I do love a good bit of irony, so here goes:
Yesterday sucked. My kids woke up really cranky and pissed and moaned all the way out the door. The KH is in the middle of a complex trial and is a crazy person, so he can be excused for yelling at the kids while they were whining at me, but it didn't make for a pleasant morning. I finally got them all where they needed to be and started cleaning the house…and I got a call from Younger Son, from the nurse’s office, “I have a stomach ache, can you pick me up?” Meaning, of course, “I don’t want to be here today, can you pick me up?”
After stalling him for half an hour, I finally went and got him (I think my chances for winning the Mother of the Year award went out the window when I announced to the school secretary: "My kid claims he's sick. I'm here to pick him up"), brought him home, and fed him. Discovered Koz had peed on the side of the sofa (he has a marking issue--we’re dealing with it). Threw the sofa slipcover in the wash. Younger Son’s stomach ache magically went away, so (to his dismay) I took him back to school. Ran out of gas on the way. Managed to roll to the gas station and fill up. $65 later, got home and found the washing machine was done, but the slipcover still looked dirty. Turned on the water to wash my hands…nothing.
Called the water department to report a pressure issue. “It's not a pressure issue. We haven’t received your payment, so your water has been disconnected.” WTF?! I mailed the check! “We don’t have it in the system. You have to pay at the payment agency.” Where is that? "There isn’t one near you. You’ll have to drive downtown (45 minutes away) and pay in person." Discovered the water department recently went online. Spent 45 minutes trying to get signed up. Developed a severe case of Tourette's. Finally managed to pay online, called them back with a confirmation number: “Thank you very much; your water will be back on within 24 hours.” 24 HOURS?! Excuse me, but I have kids coming home in FOUR hours! Kids who are going to want dinner, and working toilets!
Called the bank to stop payment on the missing check. That will be $27. In addition to the late fee, the disconnect fee, and the reconnect fee from the water department. Oh, yeah. And the water bill payment. And I still don’t have water. Or clean laundry. And how much do you want to bet the check makes it into the water department's system and gets paid during the 24 hour period before the stop check request goes through? (Hint: there is not enough money in the account to cover both the online payment and the check. It was a really big water bill.)
Got a call from the pharmacy. My doctor only authorized 30 days of my prescription, instead of the 90 I usually get. They have tried to contact her twice, but she won’t respond. Do I still want the prescription? How much is it? Twice as much as the 90 day prescription. Aaargh!
So today, I was looking forward to a better day. You know, one without a meteorite hitting the house. Instead, I got water raining down from the living room ceiling. The boys' bathroom is directly above the living room. Directly above the antique dining room table my mother gave me. The table upon which is displayed the hand-made, leather-bound book my husband wrote and gave to me as a wedding present 15 years ago. The ceiling, walls, trim, carpet, table, and book are all severely water damaged.
Drought to flood. Do you think the KG has a brother? The Water God? Because clearly I pissed somebody off.
Monday, October 24, 2011
I originally intended to use my new blending hackle, but after a morning of utter frustration, I discovered what more experienced fiber artists already know: a hackle is intended to comb out the shorter fibers (here, the dog hair), leaving only the longer fibers behind to become roving. So a hackle is not the right tool if you want to blend shorter and longer fibers. Duh.
Eventually I switched to my hand cards, and things progressed rapidly from that point.
These are my poufy little rolags of fiber, all ready to be spun.
They look and feel like little golden clouds.
And they spin up pretty easily. I am trying to spin fairly thick singles so I end up with a bulky two-ply to use for a sofa blanket. Evidently, I suck at spinning thicker singles. I haven't seen such lumpy, bumpy yarn since my first attempts at spinning.
I'm not sweating it, though. It's going to be an afghan, so however the yarn turns out, it will work. I'll just let the end result dictate the pattern I choose.
And here is the first skein, all washed and pretty. As you can see, it's a fuzzy, thick and thin yarn. What you can't see is that it is incredibly soft. It feels like angora, only denser. Dog hair is supposed to be about eight times warmer than wool, so I imagine it will make for a very warm blanket!
Friday, October 21, 2011
Thursday, October 20, 2011
It is Bartlettyarns fisherman 2-ply in a color that was supposed to be "Rust" but is really salmon pink. Not a bad color, but not the greatest color in the world for me. I decided I could overdye this with orange and brown and get something close to the color I wanted.
I recently bought some dye in "Burnt Orange." It turns out, however, that when I pulled the container off the shelf, I did not read the label. The container was incorrectly shelved, so I had actually bought..."Salmon." Overdyeing salmon with salmon didn't seem all that productive to me.
Not to be deterred, I decided I could come up with my own burnt orange based on the dyes I already had. Not a bad idea, really, since I have red, yellow, and brown. So don't ask me why I decided that red and brown together would turn salmon pink yarn into orange yarn. I have no idea. In my defense, it was late in the day and I was distracted. But rest assured, red and brown do not make orange, no matter how much one may want them to.
Instead, they make this:
It is a truly beautiful deep cranberry--which is, as usual, not what I was trying to achieve, but still lovely, and it will be excellent for Tinder, if that's what I decide to use it for. I had seven skeins of yarn, which is way more than I need, so I left one the original color, with the vague idea that it would make pretty trim for the cranberry.
Maybe facing for the collar? Edging for the cuffs and bottom? Not sure, but I like the colors together, so perhaps I'll work something out.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
This. This is Snowbird, worked in Marr Haven sport weight in light grey (more of a heathered beige). As I mentioned before, it's not really a sport weight yarn. I'm getting a perfect worsted weight gauge with it. It's very lanolin-y and smells like clean sheep. There is virtually no vegetable matter in this yarn. It does not feel soft while knitting (probably because there is a fair amount of spinning oil in the coned yarn), but it becomes wonderfully soft and squishy after washing. This yarn is the perfect antidote to the commercial acrylic blend I used for Ariann Again, and I think I am slowly recovering.