Sunday, September 28, 2008

More advanced knitting maneuvers

I learned how to knit last winter. I mastered scarves and potholders early on. Once someone showed me how to "knit in the round" and do increase and decreases stitches, I realized hats weren't too hard either. I got very brave last spring and, with the help of some videos off of You Tube, figured out how to make socks (they're pretty similar to hats until you get to the heel...that's when those fantastic You Tube videos come in handy!)

But the final frontier for me was making an actual piece of clothing. Not just accessories like scarves and socks, but something that was solely responsible for keeping me from getting arrested for nudity on the street. I really want to make a sweater that I can wear, but I figured it was better to start out small. Make all my mistakes on a baby-size sweater so I could hone my technique before moving on to an adult size. But lo and behold, my first attempt turned out pretty well! I still have to find a clip or snap of some kind to attach so the sweater can be worn closed, but besides that it's done!

This sweater is actually knit flat, starting at the bottom of the back. As you go, you knit the sleeves, then bind off the neck and finish one side of the front. After you get down to that side's hem, you pick up stitches on the other side of the neck, finish that sleeve and then knit the other side of the front. (That probably doesn't make much sense, but I swear it's a very easy way to knit a sweater.) So when you're done knitting, you still have to stitch up each side and underarm seam before it's actually wearable. Next project: a Nicole-size sweater!
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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

I built some sh*t

So, I was really flattered when Gina invited me to be a contributor to this blog; then I got some sort of creative block. A year and a half later, I finally have something to share.

I live in what was a really drab (Navajo white paint and cheap gray carpet) apartment when I first moved in. Slowly but surely, thanks to cheap rent (and rent control) and real estate prices, I've been motivated to make some minor improvements.

The last bastion of ugliness was my kitchen; the scope of the project was so overwhelming I didn't know where to begin. Finally, I took the plunge and signed up for woodshop class through the adult education program in my area. I proceeded to build a new cabinet for one wall in my kitchen, strip, sand and repaint all the existing cabinet frames, and build all new doors and drawers for them.

Why do this, especially when I rent? Well, due to the aforementioned cheap rent and high cost of owning, I knew I was going to be here for a while, and why live in ugliness when you don't have to? Secondly, it cost me less than an additional month's rent to redo the kitchen and when you take a gander below, I think you'll understand why it was so worth it.

So, with no further ado, I present to you, my kitchen (oh, and if you click the little callout symbol on the lower left of the embedded show, you'll see the captions for the pictures - and I think if you click on the slide show itself you can go to a full-size version of the pictures...):

Monday, September 1, 2008

I! Have Made! Paint!

First of all, let me point out the elephant in the room. I have painted the whole upper level of our house while pregnant. (I only intended to do the nursery, but then I just couldn't stop). Sometimes I get the reaction, "Oh, you can't do that!!" but I did a much research as I could on the subject on my own, and haven't found any real evidence that modern paints have ever done any damage to an unborn child. There are lots of women on the message boards that I frequent who said that their doctors were okay with it, and some that endured and participated in enough renovation that they were sure their baby would be born "with a brush in his hand..." I also received the go-ahead from my doctor, as long as I had proper ventilation in the room, and took breaks. I stopped short of the basement (our TV and rec area) because I couldn't keep that area as open, and because by then I was just too freaking big to get up and down my little step ladder safely. Or at all. I hate stairs right now. I used low-VOC paint (many of them are now, but I used Benjamin Moore), and when it came to our bedroom, I painted it just before we left town for a long weekend at Ma's, so that we wouldn't be sleeping in a freshly painted area. Anyhow, that was my choice and I was personally comfortable with it. I'm very glad of it right now, because all this painting is something I just wouldn't want to address with a new infant. Also, I feel much cozier in my house now (much more like a home).

I've been very happy with how all the paint colors have turned out in our house. I used subtle, almost pastel colors everywhere, except for one chocolate brown wall in our dining room. That's why I was dismayed when the "Withered Moss" color I chose for the hallway looked to be a very, very dark green when I painted a test-swatch on the wall. The original color is the one on the far right. Chris said it looked like "Orc Green." He's nerdy, but he was right.

green paint swatches

I had been too much of a doofus to buy a sample size, of course, so what could I do with this big gallon of dark, yet intense, camo-green paint? I started to experiment on a hand-palette, like you would with a mixed drink: one part this, two or three parts that... My first mix is the one you see on the left. Too brown. The mix I ended up with was three parts orc green, one part white (I actually used trim paint), and just a drop of light brown. I re-created it, approximately, in the same proportions using an empty can of the light brown paint (figuring that the brown coating the can was enough of that color) and adding the green and white. I brought it back to the hardware store, so that they could use their high-powered shaker thing and I'd get a good mix.

The finished result is the one you see in the middle. Just right! We call this one "Uruk-hai": modified, and stronger. Dorks.