Saturday, December 22, 2012

Windmill Whimsy Quilt

Unlike last year's resolution of keeping my cell phone by me at all times, which I have totally failed at, I actually kept the other one: start early on Christmas gifts. Back in April I started on a quilt for my in-laws, and finished it on time!

My inspiration was this Windmill Whimsy quilt from Film in the Fridge. I hunted around a bit and found a free pattern, which did all of the math for me... score. (Download it here.)

Enter the glorious revelation of pre-cut fabric: you can buy squares already cut, in a variety of coordinating fabrics! The fabric I used is called "California Girl", and I got it at the FatQuarterShop (totally drool-worthy link right there, watch out.) The background is Kona white.

I quilted it in a grid pattern and then washed it; I didn't pre-wash any of the fabric so that it would shrink and crinkle up.

I should mention that I'm now spoiled for life. The days of using Wal-mart fabric are over. I'm a fancy quilter with fancy tastes now. Pretty soon I'll have a room in my house just for quilting! Oh, whoops...

Monday, October 15, 2012

Fairs & Spinning Update

My spinning wheel(s) have been getting quite the workout over the last few months. Here are the results.

This Falkland (from FatCatKnits) became 2-ply heavy fingering (colorway is Quackenbush):

This merino from FatCatKnits also became fingering weight (that seems to be my default.) The colorway is "Cody":

More FatCatKnits, this time some Polwarth, in heavy laceweight, "Tanzanite." (This is currently being transformed into a Holden Shawlette)

Next up is "Lavender Lemonade" from AlohaBlu, superwash merino and nylon, spun up into a 3-ply for socks:

Thought that was it? Oh no, there's more! Chain-plied BFL in "Potluck", from Spunky Eclectic:

And finally, chain-plied merino from Woolgatherings, spun on my Golding handspindle.

I went a little nuts over fair season this year, enabled by my wonderful new boss who enters canned goods into several fairs, and offered to enter my knitting and spinning into the Maryland State Fair. Between the State Fair, Montgomery County Fair, and Damascus Community Fair, I ended up with 24 ribbons, including 12 firsts, 8 seconds, and a Champion (for my Haruni Shawl.) So how can I top this next year?? Must get knitting! I certainly have enough yarn...

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Home Improvement: Kitchen Pantry

I hate how you always have to scroll through 5 million pictures to get to the finished result, so here you go:

Is this what happens when you get old, you get excited about pantries? AHHH MY PANTRY IS AWESOME!!!! (The first part of the saga is here, in which I replace the floor.)

We still have the same number of shelves; the bottom 3 are 1x12"s, and the top 2 1x10"s. I did this on purpose so that now I can actually reach the boxes on the top shelf, instead of having to perform some sort of olympic balancing feat to reach the boxes that had gotten pushed all the way to the back. 

It's probably not necessary to explain how I made these shelves, because it's pretty obvious from looking at them. What's not obvious is that the friggin' wall is not straight. This resulted in having to cut each shelf 3 times (smaller each time, thankfully.) While they fit between the 2 walls at the front of the pantry, they did not fit at the back. I guess I had forgotten this from when I did the floor, and ended up having to cut a notch in the drywall to fit the tile in.

 And no, I didn't decant everything into cute vintage glass jars with painted-on chalkboard labels. Because I am a normal person who actually uses my pantry to store normal food. So let's all have a collective chuckle at this pantry I found on Houzz:

Meanwhile, the garden is going gangbusters. Don't ever let someone tell you that you can't grow food on a deck. I'm planning on canning all of this in vintage glass jars with gingham cloth on the top tied with rustic twine.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

New Toys

For years I have been jealous of the people I read about who go to a thrift store and just happen upon a beautiful piece of furniture or really expensive shoes for sale for $2.99. Finally, last week it happened to me! I am now a person who owns 2 spinning wheels.

I'm quite happy with my Fricke wheel, but when you see an Ashford Traditional for $45, you buy it. It's missing some parts, most notably a flyer, but I found a used one that's currently on its way via the slow boat from rural Canada.

You may have heard of this little bike race in France called the Tour de France, which is nothing but the inspiration for the more important event going on right now, the Tour de Fleece. 'Tis the season for sporting-related fiber events. Goals are individual, with the most basic to spin every day of the Tour. I've finished 2 bobbins so far: "Tanzanite" on Polwarth and "Cody" on Merino, both from FatCatKnits (I'm on the FatCatKnits team, which explains this.)

And the craft-related machinery doesn't stop there! For my birthday this year I got a new sewing machine. My Singer wasn't terrible, but it refused to sew through anything more that just 2 layers of regular fabric. This is the Janome HD1000, and can sew through a yardstick (skip to 1:36). I'm not sure I will ever need to do that, but it's good to have options. 

Finally, the pantry, currently in the form of a large Tetris game, is nearing completion.  Let me tell you, that can of Benjamin Moore paint has really paid for itself. Not only did it cover all of the kitchen cabinets, but also 2 shelves, a ceiling fan, and all of these pieces - and there's still half a gallon left.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Evolution of a Light

Uhhhh I have a blog? I haven't posted in over 2 months! Every once in a while I contemplate just officially ending the whole thing (it's been over SEVEN years), but I also want the option of putting stuff up here in case I feel like it. Usually what happens is that I read someone's amazing blog about how they bake strawberry cakes and grow heirloom vegetables all day, and look at their artfully composed photos of a single leaf, and I think I should do that. Then I get home from work and sit on the couch for 4 hours knitting or watching trolls attack each other in the comments sections of feminist blogs, and the whole thing just seems like way too much work.

So if you thought the last post about 4 square feet of tile flooring was thrilling, you're going to love this. Now that I'm old and grizzled in the home improvement sector, I was bracing myself for the worst when I decided to take down the fluorescent light in the kitchen. At best, I thought, there would be a hole in the ceiling. Worst case there would be a colony of hobos living up there.

Ok, not so bad! Needs paint, for sure, but there's not a gaping 3-foot hole up there. There was the world's worst drywall patching job, but I could deal with that.

First I pulled the patch down (i.e., punched it) and sanded as much of the patching compound off as I could. Luckily the drywall piece was in good shape so I didn't have to buy more.

Next I googled "how to fix drywall." Googling is a very important step in all home repair projects. I screwed a piece of scrap wood behind the hole so that the patch would actually be attached, rather than floating there precariously as it was previously.

Then, I screwed the patch pieces (I don't know why there were two, but at this point I was just going with it) to the board.

I taped over all of the seams with some flexible mesh tape. 

Finally, I smeared the whole thing with patching compound and tried to smooth it out as evenly as possible using a putty knife. I did two coats and let it dry after the first. Then I sanded it down, using the highly effective method of standing on a ladder with a cookie sheet lined with newspaper balanced on my hand waitress-style underneath, so the dust didn't coat the entire kitchen.

Then I left the room and let Jason do the electrical. There are a lot of couples who like to do DIY projects together as some sort of torture-bonding ritual, but after 5 years we know enough to just stay out of each other's way. It works out; Jason's good with plumbing and electrical, and I'm good with painting, sawing, and making sure things are straight. When I came back down a few hours later there was a light!

The pantry project I mentioned a few months ago is currently in Stage 2. I have cut all the wood for the shelves, but plan on painting them before installing them. When I finish that, the kitchen is done! So plan on pictures when I get around to it, probably early 2014.

For anyone participating in the Ravellenic Games (i.e., the knitting olympics, but I'm not allowed to call it that: see here), I'm on the best team ever: Team Apathy. Team motto: "Hear us meh."We don't care if anyone finishes or not.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Home Improvement: Pantry, Part 1

Brace yourselves for a whole bunch of really exciting photos of 5 square feet of floor!

This is our pantry. Ugh, I know. So uncharacteristically unorganized.

I'm going to redo the whole thing, and I had to start with the biggest offender, the floor. This gross white tile floor is on the list of head-scratchers (along with the orange ceiling in the basement) in this house. Why wasn't the floor replaced along with the rest of the floor in the kitchen? Was that just too much effort?

I started with taking off the baseboards. I intended to reuse them, but they turned out to be really gross too. Also, they're too short - there was originally a bi-fold door here, so there was a gap in the molding and rails on the floor and ceiling. I used a razor blade to cut through the caulk at the top of the baseboards, and hammered a chisel in to pry them away from the wall.

Hidden behind one was this matchbook cover for Sears driving school. I wasn't that surprised to find it, since it seems like whoever built this house just put all their trash in the walls.

Home improvement always involves an unexpected element, and in this case it was that the tile had been installed over 2 layers of linoleum... which turned out to be awesome! Once I chiseled under the first tile, I was able to peel the whole thing off the floor in sheets.

I only bruised my hand once! Also I was dumb and didn't wear gloves - were you aware that ceramic tile shatters into tiny little slivers that will slice your hands to shreds? Neither was I.

The floor then was covered in tile adhesive [If you are laying tile on a floor to be walked on, you must put down a foundation first. But no one will be walking in here, so it's ok.] I set some tiles I got at Home Depot, which are all displayed high up in the most inconvenient place ever. I ended up climbing up some pallets to get them, which I believe is frowned upon, but had I looked for an employee I'm sure the entire process would have taken 3 times as long.

I only had to make 2 cuts because miraculously the pantry was a little over 24" wide.

After a few days of drying, I put in some grout, and ta da! Done. I feel like this project went way too easily. Something bad is going to happen. Oh wait.

Remember those baseboards I took off? They are 3" high. Guess how high baseboards are now (post-1985)? 3 1/4". Yep. Guess I have an excuse to buy that table saw I've been wanting.

Next, I'm going to paint the pantry and add solid shelving. I seriously hate those wire shelves, stuff always falls through or tips over. The problem is that there are SO MANY options! I'm thinking a few slide-out shelves will be good, so we can access items towards the back. I still haven't figured out what to do with the trash cans - they are in the way but there doesn't seem to be another place to put them.

What is in your dream pantry? What haven't I thought of?

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Finished: Hermione's Everyday Socks

More socks! I feel like I keep knitting socks, but I don't actually gain any, because for every new pair an old pair gets discontinued. I do have small feet, but my old socks have shrunk so much they could fit toddlers' feet. These have been my traveling project for the last 6 months, and have been exciting places such as a National's baseball game, Nova Scotia, and the outlet mall.

Pattern: Hermione's Everyday Socks (free, and super-easy)
Needles: size 1 DPNs
Yarn: Paton's Kroy Socks FX from Joann's (I am an equal-opportunity yarn buyer)

It's only after looking at this picture that I'm realizing how different in color these socks are. Oh well, I doubt anyone will notice.

Help me out here. I've been in a reading slump since the beginning of the year. The problem is that I've read every book. Yep, all of them. Tell me what to read! Here are the books I've read 400 times each:
  • Teenager living in a dystopian society gets thrown into a situation where she has to be plucky to survive
  • Slightly abrasive-yet-loveable detective solves a murder
  • Single woman living in the middle ages/colonial America/World War I breaks gender barriers
  • Someone eats locally/hikes a trail/travels to exotic locations for a year
  • Comedian/TV personality shares humorous anecdotes about their life
I'm generally not interested in vampires, werewolves, lands populated by creatures other than humans, and space, but hey, if an awesome book exists out there with those themes, recommend it. But for the love of God do not tell me to read Twilight.
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