Monday, February 2, 2015

In the studio

It feels like there's been a lot happening and at the same time very little. I've taken advantage of the end of the Christmas rush with a good deal of selfish knitting. I finished my Bleecker Street cardigan, finally, and it's drying on the blocking board. The fit, from what I can tell so far, is great. The fronts were doing quite a lot of curling though, so I wanted to give it a good block before wearing. It would be wonderful if it were ready to wear to Monday night knitting!

After that, I immediately cast on a simple, plain hat with the leftover ball and change from the sweater. I haven't photographed it. It turned out well, though I wish I'd done it with either more or less slouch. It's right on the edge. I might line it though, as it's only a sport weight and I could use a little more warmth here up north. That will probably fill in the not enough slouch just enough to make it a good hat for me.

After THAT I cast on the Chilly Podsters that have been on my list for years. I started out working the fingering weight pattern, but quit after deciding they wouldn't be warm enough. They're a fingerless glove with a mitten flip top. I've needed them ever since the advent of touch screen phones, and now they are mine. They are knit from Cascade 220 superwash worsted weight on size 3 needles. I usually knit my kids mittens, also worsted weight, on size 5's, so this fabric is even more dense than I'm used to. They were really tight when I first put them on, but they are loosening up nicely with wear, and the dense fabric keeps them warm. Even so, I might go ahead and line the flip top if and when I line the hat, because why not. I love the functionality of the flip top thumb. I only did it on my right hand and I'm glad I did. Sometimes it doesn't quite overlap and that's a little annoying, but that's really the only thing!

I've been picking away at the sock yarn blanket too after snapping up scraps from a much smarter knitter whose blocks are about 4x the size of mine. I'm really loving this time to myself. I've yet to feel much in the mood for sewing, but I'm hoping it will come soon. I've got some ideas for myself, and possibly the shop. We'll see. I'm not pushing it.

I also, after a few years of idle speculation, acquired a spinning wheel. My years of speculation have merely been idle because it turns out wheels start at $400 and go up steeply from there. A little much to invest in a possibly passing fancy. I'd been casually looking on Craigslist, and found a working vintage wheel, origin unknown. The guy threw in a dress form, which I've also been looking for, for just $5, and a pile of yarn (chosen from several bins) for another $10. She's a bit bustier than I am, but since I'm looking more for decor than fit, and more for a $5 pricetag than $50-200, she's perfect. She needs a stand. I'll have to work on that. It was a pretty good trip, and no mom, I didn't get murdered or maimed.

As for the spinning, I spent an evening disassembling, dusting, and greasing up the moving parts. It still runs a bit rough but I think it will get better with time. I ordered some fiber. I'm pretty terrible. Most of the time I spin frustration, the others I seem to be spinning tightly spun rope, not pretty soft yarn. Yes, this will take some practice.

Monday, January 12, 2015

TIme Elapsed

So the end of 2014 really wiped me out. I ended up with three rolling and simultaneous work deadlines, a fairly heavy load of knitting, none of which was for me, and a harebrained idea that I had to fix up a vintage dollhouse by Christmas Eve. It was already somewhat painted on the inside, so those are the surfaces I touched. I didn't mess with any of the natural wood. It turned out really cute, and hasn't looked this orderly since December 25. The studio is nowhere near "finished," but it's mostly functioning. I haven't had the time to spruce it up or fully organize it, but it was great to have a place to stash and work on Christmas gifts. I really need to order a space heater though. Winter has unmistakably arrived. It's definitely taken a while to get back the desire to be creative and to write and to do anything in my spare time but sleep.

This weekend though, I cast on a new pair of socks from the wonderful and slightly over my head Sock Architecture (affiliate link) book by Lara Neel. I did the long wedge toe based on the exercises in the beginning of the book, and I already like the fit much better than my first pair. I also finished knitting the two fronts of my Bleecker Street Cardigan, and I even ripped out and redid both of the sleeve caps. I've been putting off that rip for months, but I was just in the right headspace to sit down and do it. I'm glad I did. There was another mistake aside from the one I ripped for, so re-knitting made the whole thing assemble much more easily. Which it is now, mostly. I'm just attaching the neckband, and then I'll be starting the ribbing along the bottom where I left the provisional cast on. I ended up with just shy of three balls of yarn left. I won't use it all. I'll rib till I get bored or I feel like it's long enough. Then I'll block - it's curly as hell - and photograph the finished object. I can't wait to wear it. It's been so cold here.

As for me and the blog in 2015? I don't know. I haven't felt much in the mood for twice weekly updates, so I just stopped. I'd rather post nothing than post nonsense for the sake of it, you know? I feel both inspired and overwhelmed by the resolution or goal or theme of the year posts I've read elsewhere. Part of me would love to say "I'm going to knit a pair of socks a month!" and the other part of me is like, well, good luck with that, not going to happen. I guess my main goal for the year is to roll with it. I want to be kind to myself and not set myself up for disappointment. Realistically all of this is my hobby. I was feeling pretty burned out by knitting for my Etsy shop this holiday, so for now I think I'm just going to stop. I took down all the custom listings right before the holiday order deadline, but not before I over-committed myself. I'm not going to shut the shop down altogether, but I think I'm going to take it in another direction, as the mood strikes. No definite plans to share right now, I'm going to do it more as I'm moved to. I'd forgotten how nice it was to knit for me, so I'm glad I had this weekend to rediscover it. I knit about 21 things (mostly PAIRS of things) for Etsy sales last year, and just 12 for my nearest and dearest. For now, I'm hanging up my commission knitting hat, no pun intended. Perhaps selfish is my 2015 theme. Or taking care of the home front. It's actually not as bad as it sounds - part of what's been on MY list and gotten pushed down a lot is knitting newborn and preemie hats for local hospitals, and I just haven't had the time to do it. Perhaps as soon as I cast off my sweater, I'll cast on a little hat. Yes, I think that feels right.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Holiday Gifts!

Hi everyone! My brain is getting altogether scrambled with alternating deadlines every week at work, which is leaving little time or desire for blogging, but I wanted to pop in with a couple of announcements.

First of all, the USPS has released the holiday shipping deadlines!

Given this, I've updated the information for my Etsy shop.


Need it by Christmas? The USPS shipping deadline for Christmas delivery is December 20. My made to order items (most of the knitted things!) have a 2 week lead time, so the order deadline for MADE TO ORDER is SATURDAY, DECEMBER 6. If you are ordering "READY TO SHIP" items (this will be noted in the item title), the deadline is THURSDAY, DECEMBER 18. Thanks so much for your understanding!

I'm busily knitting away on a couple of current orders, and I'm getting down to just a few things that are ready to ship! So no pressure or anything, but if you were planning to place an order for Christmas, the deadline is fast approaching!

And on that same note, I've been featured in a holiday gift guide! How cool! Thanks Suzanne!

Anyway, I'm hoping my brain recovers from all this work soon, but I don't really expect much before the new year!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Renting a Rug Doctor

My very first job was at the local Pick N Save grocery store. I was a cashier and service desk clerk, and I worked there for....3 years I think? Over that time, one of my responsibilities was to help people rent that little red carpet scrubber machine....and now (a bunch of) years later, I'm the one making the rental.

Honestly I'd never given it much thought. I don't remember my parents ever using one of these in the house I grew up in, and later on they built a house and had a crew come in and scrub everything from time to time. I DO know that on the day I rented the Rug Doctor, I was in a really foul mood. You see, I'd finally picked out a rug for the "den" area of my remodeled studio. ((link to rug) When it arrived, I wasn't certain it was the ONE, but I spread it out thinking I'd either get used to it or I'd return it.

However.....disaster soon struck.

All of those white spots are the result of an unhappy cat - not sure if it was unhappy bowels, attitude or both. This discovery made ME so unhappy I couldn't deal with it, so my husband did, and he was rather aggressive on the Resolve and not so much on the rinsing, so those white spots are not only discolored, but also rather crusty. I went down several times with a bucket of water and a scrub brush, and this was as good as I could get. I thought maybe it was actually bleached, but I decided to give it one more chance with a heavy duty scrubber, and re-evaluate my options after.

I got the medium sized bottle of the Oxy-Steam Carpet Cleaner solution (I opted against the pet formula because the pet portion of the stain was already gone. I also opted against the upgrade version of Oxy-Steam because it was bigger and I didn't need that much, and I was already irritated about having to spend any money on this in the first place.) My total cost was $50, including a $10 deposit. Operation was pretty simple. It was easy to remove the whitish reservoir to put in the diluted solution, and it wasn't heavy at all to pull. It operates by pushing a button to get the water and scrubbers going while you pull it backward. If you don't push the button, it runs as a heavy duty vacuum. One thing I'll say is that if you're doing a rug, you need another person to stand on the edge so the whole thing doesn't get pulled back into the vacuum, which has pretty strong suction. Obviously this isn't an issue with carpeting which is attached to the floor! I also had quite a lot of excess water, even after going over it a few times with just the vacuum function, so I ended up laying it out on the concrete portion of the basement to dry so as not to cause the vinyl flooring to pop up with all that moisture sitting on it. I also draped it over a coffee table to get some air to the underside after a day or two.

The results?

I'd give it a solid "decent." With the comparison of the before and after photos, you can still see the outline of the original stain. Everything feels the same texture now - no more crusty spots - and it's not quite so obvious in person where the problem areas are. Part of the issue honestly is probably the rug itself. It's viscose, and has both sheen and direction to it. It's sort of like microfiber in that you can rub your hand on it one way or the other and see its path. I'm hoping that both with regular vacuuming and a coffee table in the middle (you can see one of its bright footprint on the upper right above, which also demonstrates that this rug shows tracks if you breathe on it), that the rug will be ok in the basement studio. If I had endless money, I'd replace it with something else, but I don't, so I can at least rest in the fact that it's definitely CLEAN, even if it doesn't look perfect. I also wouldn't buy a viscose rug again. This is just NOT a "messy person" friendly material.

To sum up - Rug Doctor = I'd use it again if I had to, but I hope I don't have to! Viscose rug = not thrilled, wouldn't buy again.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

It may not be pretty

...but at least I'm moving.

Slowly, slowly, I'm staining, painting, polying. My usual problem with painted/poly-ed surfaces is that I get too impatient and don't allow enough drying time between coats, resulting in a sticky surface. That won't be a problem this time! I can basically get a coat on something every couple of days....and I'm sure it's about a week by the time I get back around to the beginning.

It's a good thing I'm in the mood (sort of) for painting. I keep turning around and finding spots like this that I just straight up missed when I had this color out for touch ups.

I rented a carpet scrubber to try to solve the unspeakable horrors done to my rug. The jury is still out on whether or not it worked - it's taking a long time to dry despite dehumidifiers and fans pointed in its direction. An afternoon rest outside caused, well, a frozen rug. I did learn that you can't JUST shampoo the middle part of the rug where the nonsense happened. As it started to dry, there was a definite visible line where I'd scrubbed and where I didn't. Luckily I'd prepared for such a thing and had enough time to RE-scrub before returning the machine. Long story short....I don't recommend a viscose rug. I'm not sure anyone will ever be allowed to touch it if it comes out of all this looking ok.

As I have absolutely nothing finished to show you, I'll leave you with this. What is wrong with the world. The My Little Ponys of my day were nowhere near this terrifying. Or....vertical. I'm so confused.