Monday, October 25, 2010

Doors and Trim Stained at Last

Well, in light of the bleak forecast and the mild temps, I decided yesterday was the perfect day to finally stain the trim in the studio - not all of it, but the two window frames and doors and frames.

Amazing how when we plan these projects, we don't allow for the prep time (it's like the finishing in a sweater project or rug). And it does take a while to do properly. But I did tape everything and then I put on a coat of "stinky" stain. Luckily I was able to open the windows a crack, but the smell really permeated the entire place.

Also, I found out after the fact that taping horizontal tongue-and-groove doesn't really stop much spreading - the stain just follows the grooves. Oh well, such is life.

Here is the before and after so you can see how much richer it all looks.

Staining really is rewarding as you do it, cuz you can't wait to see what the next board will look like.

One small problem with my staining. I was really hoping it would convince me that I am right to leave the walls unstained. But I think it did the opposite!!!   And that will be an enormous job!.

But it's also a job that will require wide-open windows and doors, so it will have to wait until late next spring.

And I guess that gives me lots of time to ponder.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A non-hooking post.

It's been another busy week, filled with too much work and not enough hooking. But now there is something else that is competing for spare time. Curling.

Yep, that's right. Since it seems to be a pre-requisite for living in Northern Ontario, it seemed inevitable that Rick and I would give it a whirl. And it also seems to be the only way to meet people around here, so that was another added bonus.

Last week was practice days without any organized games. That's when I learned that there are muscles dedicated ONLY to curling. Ones that are never used for any other activity!!! Who knew. (Well, I guess I should have suspected since there aren't too many other occasions where you contort your body like this.)  And who knew that those muscles could ache for 4 full days!!

By Tuesday of this week, the apple-sized bruises on my knees were that lovely purple/mustard combination and I could actually walk downstairs without hurting. So, I thought I had it all under control. My first "ice kiss" (as I call my face plants) was more than enough to have me opt for a wonderful invention called the curling stick.

What a difference!!! Doesn't this look so much easier than the position the little plastic woman is in up above??? Not only does this puppy help you aim the rock (since you are no longer distracted by falling down as you release the rock), but it means no more squatting and sliding around the ice - and no more "ice kissing". Who would opt for torture in stead of this???? Not me.

We played a full game on Tuesday and another today. And we are not the only rookies out there. Turns out it really IS the way to meet people - and we have met quite a few friendlies already. The skips are tirelessly patient and we will eventually get the hang of this.

The sliding and sweeping still provide a pretty good workout, so a few of those new muscles will still torment me for the weeks and months to come. I'm not completely off the hook.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Silk Purse, Sow's Ear Continues

What a crazy week last week! So fragmented, it seemed like I didn't get anything done. I think I actually got lots done, but it was little bits of different things - no big dedicated time on anything - which sometimes feels like wheel spinning.

One of the little things I did was a colour plan for an Amazing Matrix pillow that I will be making for a friend, and yesterday I found some time to get some dyeing done. This friend's family suffered a Christmas tree fire last year and however many months later, the construction is limping along - far behind schedule. They had hoped to be back in this Christmas, but it doesn't look as if that will happen. So the pillow will be a birthday-early-housewarming gift.

Here are a few pics of the dyeing I did - you'll see the "before" in both pictures. They were both "off the bolt" wools that I found in my favourite fabric store in Toronto. Although they were both classic "uglies", they were swans in the making. In the first one - that lime green herringbone wool was the last on a bolt for $9.99 a yard. And the oatmeal texture was a bit more - I think $14.99. But I could tell they would both dye beautifully, and I think they did.

Although the camera (and probably monitor too) colours are a bit off, the rusts are lovely and the teals too. 

Here are the other colours from my stash that I will be using in the pillow.

And here is the new gorgeous Oriental rug from which the colours were picked.

What an inspiration point!!! I think this pillow will be a joy to do and should be wonderful with the rug, don't you think?

Monday, October 11, 2010

My Happy Canadian Thanksgiving Veggie Rug Story

Well, it may be holiday Monday here, but with two turkey dinners behind me (thanks to both chefs, since I didn't prepare either one) and vainly attempting to exorcise some of the pumpkin pie calories, I have been working like a fiend. And not in the hooking capacity - but in the cleaning, switching over wardrobes and sorting capacities.

However, in midst of the kitchen cleaning frenzy (including removing the knobs from the stove to get to the yucky stuff behind there), my veggie rug was in the line of fire and destined to also get a good clean.

Here is a picture of the final result - and one of the "weapons of choice" - a soft-bristled toothbrush.

Back up a little ... when I designed this rug, I knew it was for in front of the kitchen sink, so I decided to hook it in yarn on rug warp, so that I could save it from spills - even soak it in case of a worst case "spaghetti-sauce-type" mishap. That was the thinking. And it was good.

Now, whenever I clean the kitchen, part of the routine is giving the rug a gentle vacuum and using one of those body scrubbie things from the dollar store to finish. Today's cleaning went a step further. With this soft-bristled toothbrush, slightly moistened, I brushed a few spots that looked like droplets of something or other (black background, not the brightest choice). And it worked like a charm. Not only did it coax out the food droplets, it fluffed up the loops and made everyone stand up clean and proud.

It did something else. The outer grey border is actually a thick yarn that has a little boucle in it and, just like in a boucle sweater, the longer hairs start to wear and grow. So, once the gentle toothbrush had done its duty, the sweater defuzzer followed. It felt suspiciously like what it must be to groom a dog, though I've never done that, nor owned a dog that required grooming.

The end result is that the rug looks fantastic (which I'm sure is the feeling of the above dog owner after the grooming). And the toothbrush trick worked so well, I decided it was the perfect tip to share today.

Now that the cleaning and organizing are done, I am free to sit and hook or knit for a while.

Something to be truly thankful for.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Knit 3, Hook 1

Seems that in the fall, my love of knitting kicks into higher gear and starts to compete with my hooking time. Not that it doesn't do that all year, because I am a 365 day knitter, but I guess this time of year gets busier with planned Christmas gifts added to the mix.

So this past week has definitely been an exercise in time management: work, knit, hook, eat and sleep - a curriculum that gives my days a nice rhythm. Right now I've got two knitting projects on the needles, one just blocked and two recently completed. And there are at least 6 presents in bags with patterns that have that definite deadline. And too many hooking projects to mention.

One of the recently completed projects, a knee-length cotton vest in teal presented a problem for buttons. I found an interesting solution, so decided to share. Since I couldn't find a single button I particular liked, I used a mixture of large and small buttons in different colours and stacked them.

Not only do I love the way they look, but they certainly introduce a palette of possibilities to wear under the vest. And they all came from my button bag. I sewed them on with yarn from the vest, through the two sets of holes of the button stack.

Feeling like I hadn't pulled a loop in a while (punching is definitely different from pulling), I got back to a piece I started a while ago. Sometimes things you start have a habit of evolving into something else - especially for me. And often something unexpected determines the outcome.

I had started a little moose when I participated in the stocking challenge a while back, which I was going to tuck inside the stocking. I ran out of time, so decided I would just hook it as a small moose study with trees. Then along came this $2 bargain at a hook in and it changed again.

This is one continuous 4" strip of buffalo check wool - blanket weight. I had absolutely no idea what I would do with it. But let's face it, a gal from a log cabin cannot resist buffalo check anything. So, the little moose took a sharp turn, got some companions and a buffalo check background.

The wool is quite difficult to hook with, because it is very thick, and reproducing the check is not as easy as it looks. But I am liking it and will have fun finishing it. I think it might become a pillow for Rick's study. And I'll use more of the buffalo check wool for a border - unhooked.

It's fun to not know exactly where things will turn out. And in both instances in this post, a very pleasant surprise was just waiting to be uncovered.

Cozy Evvie is Complete - well at least the hooking part.

Here she is. She is all hooked. She has the "best saying ever" on her shirt - printed on fabric, since it was way too small to h...