Summer’s end

 

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I go back to work tomorrow, and it rained yesterday for the first time in a couple months, so I guess we are finally letting go of summer.

There was very little fiber or fabric in my summer.  Too busy, too distracted, and just never in the mood.

Instead, we remodeled, and traveled, and lazed, in about equal amounts.

I took the first major road trip we’ve ever done with the kids.  My sister and I loaded up a 1970s tent trailer and the boys and took off for California, driving south for 8 days.  We stayed mainly in state parks along the way.

We stayed in the redwoods first.

And then headed over to the coast:

We saw wild and aquarium creatures of all sorts:

The boys enjoyed every minute of it, of course.

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(And oh, how I wish I could have recorded their appalled voices when they found out that national forests don’t supply wifi!  Insert evil mother’s laugh here.)

At the end of the eight days we reached Anaheim, dropped my sister at the airport, and greeted my husband, who had flown down to join us, and we temporarily traded the trailer for an air-conditioned hotel.

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Then it was a week of heat, and rollercoasters, and junk food.  It was the kids’ first time at Disney and Universal Studios, and my first time in 20 years.  I have really mixed feelings about that part of the trip.  It was crowded, and expensive, and exhausting, and omg-level hot, but it was also fun, and nostalgic, and scary, and funny.

And so much screaming.  My husband doesn’t do heights and falling, so I was designated rollercoaster parent.  So Much Screaming.  I may never recover from the Guardians of the Galaxy drops or the twists of the IncrediCoaster.  Frankly, I barely made it through the sliding gondolas of the California Adventure Ferris wheel.  My youngest and I clung to each other to the point of bruising on each ride.  But we were proud of ourselves after we shakily exited each car and shook the blood back into our limbs.

And now they can say we have taken them to Disney and we don’t have to do it again for another 15-20 years!

The last leg of the trip was a bit truncated.  We dropped Roni off at the airport, and the plan was for me and the boys to drive up I-5, stopping at historical spots and in the mountains along the way, but wildfires put an end to that.  Once we got to Sacramento, the smoke was starting to get bad, and the huge Redding fire meant it only got worse the further north that we got.  So, we sped up the plans and cancelled a lot of stops, and made it home in four days.

It was arid, and smoky, and we were a bit vacationed out, so it was just as well.  And once the tires on the elderly trailer started to go, I was about done with camping.

All in all, it was a great trip. The kids got to swim in pools and rivers.

They saw new parts of the country and drove some really twisty roads, and some really straight ones..

We learned that we really like tent trailer camping (no sleeping on the ground!) and I think we are going to buy one.

And I learned that changing a tire on the side of I-5 is possible, but not pleasant.

We are definitely going to hit the road again on future vacations.  But with newer tires.

And in all that time, and all those miles, this is how much knitting I got done:

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Much brighter

My sister decided yesterday that she could no longer live with the curtains she inherited from the previous tenant when she moved into her apartment.

It is not hard to see why she turned against them.

Crtains before

She is very far from a brown and red plaid person.  I don’t know how they lasted as long as they did.

Here’s a closeup.  I think they would maybe work in someone’s hunting cabin in the woods?

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There was a lot of agonizing at the fabric store because she couldn’t find a print that matched what she saw in her mind.  She wanted bright, but not too busy.  She also didn’t want to pay a fortune for curtains when she isn’t sure how much longer she will live in this apartment.

And then we hit on the idea of ombré color block curtains.  Kona cotton rainbow of options to the rescue.

After a bit of math confusion at the cutting counter, I handled the cutting and sewing, and she handled all the ironing.

 

I made French seams to encase the raw edges, as they will show from outside through the windows when she is on her patio.  We didn’t line them as she needs all the light she can get in that living room.

On her way home she went to Lowe’s and got a can of silver spray paint to turn the rings and rod from black to silver.

Such a vast improvement after a morning of work!

Curtains after

The teal/turquoise is also in the quilt that I gave her when she moved.  (A camera shy niece is hiding under there.)

Quilt a d curtains.

Next we need to make some pillows for the gray couch that will brighten up that too.  It is so satisfying to be able to make such a difference with a few yards of fabric.

Summer progress

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Finally on summer vacation!  And then I made the mistake of watering all the new plants in the garden, and a sudden rain storm blew in.  My fault – I should have know better than to temp the rain gods like that.

But it made for a lot of available sewing time.  I’m back at work on the Growing Up Odd quilt, chain stitching the little squares and building the different sized blocks.

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I’ve finished the 7×3 and 7×7 blocks, 16 of each, and I have 34 of the 48 3×3 blocks done.

I tried hard to not duplicate fabrics in the same blocks.  That was easy in the nine patches, but harder when it was a 49 square block, sewn together randomly in chunks.  There is usually at least one repeat.

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Sashing next.  I’m planning to quilt it in strips to make it more manageable, though the actual quilting will have to wait until I get my Juki back from the shop.  My smaller Brother machine is great for regular sewing, but it doesn’t like too much bulk under the needle.

I also finished up my ribbed scarf knit with a variety of coned yarns.  I’m trying to clear up space in the craft storage.  It is entirely 1×1 ribbing, so it made a great work project I could pick up during lunch or faculty meetings.  No pattern or thought needed.

While I was knitting it the yarns were thin and almost cotton like – coned yarns still have oil on them as they were meant to be used on machines – but once it was done and hand washed in hot, soapy waters, and then dried on the hammock, the yarn softened and bloomed. Definitely a cold weather accessory, so it will be put away for awhile.

Tool box hat

A while back I knit a Craftsy kit called the tool box cowl.  Mine was the hill myna colorway, a gradient of grays with a mustard yellow to cheer things up.  (I love gray and yellow.  Love, love, love.  Pretty much the color scheme of my entire house.)  I added in some cream as well to get a wider cowl and to create more contrast.

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There was yarn left over, so I just knit up a tool box hat to match.

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They are both really simple patterns, with a slip stitch garter transition between colors. I was never knitting with more than one color per row thanks to the slipped stitches.

No decreases needed, and a quick three needle bond off.  Then the corners turned in, a braid, and a matching set is done.

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Spinning my wheel

It has been a long, dry spinless spell, but I finally got back to my wheel this week.

Actual yarn was produced!

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532 yards total of 2-ply fingering to DK weight.

This is not particularly well spun yarn.  I was working with somewhat matted fiber, and I struggled to remember how to spin consistently, so the single plys were not very even.  And then I switched up plying methods in midskein, so the beginning and the end of the skein look a bit different.  I thought about running it through the wheel again, but I’d already soaked it, and by the time it was dry two days later, I’d moved on.  It isn’t different enough to bother me when I knit with it.

You can see the difference in how tightly the yarn winds on the bobbin in the picture below.  The first bobbin was using double drive and went on quite loosely – the second used Scotch tension, which lets me increase the pull of the yarn onto the bobbin, so it wraps on more tightly and more yarn fits on the bobbin.  Both bobbins have approximately the same yardage.  Now I need to get to the Baby Bear stage.  I’ve got too loosely wound but tightly plyed (bobbin #1) and tightly wound but under plyed (bobbin #2).  I want tightly wound and tightly plyed.

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I love the color – it is polwarth wool and silk that I kettle dyed in a deep blue.  There was a lot of fiber in the pot so it dyed a little unevenly, and the silk and wool took up different amounts of dye.  It creates a heather effect.

Now I’ve started in on this black mystery wool and yellow/peach silk noil fiber.  I need to figure out the right treadle speed and take-up, as its pig-tailing a lot, a sign that I’m feeding it on to the bobbin too quickly or that I’m putting in too much spin.

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I’ll get the hang of this spinning thing again.

Chaos in the kitchen

I’m trying to think of an explanation of why I thought it would be a good idea to do a kitchen remodel during the last crazy busy weeks of school.  There has to have been a reason, but now that it has actually started, it escapes me.

But there is no going back now.

On Sunday, my kitchen looked like this:

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On Monday afternoon, it looked like this:

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I’m taking a lot of deep breaths and reminding myself that change is a good thing.

 

Box shelves

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Nearly a year ago we moved to a new house, a decision that made my commute to work much shorter, but my sewing space a lot more cramped.  Instead of a small dedicated room, I have the end of the family room for my crafting space.  At least it is the end with the window!

Storage is the main issue.  If I need a lot of work space, I can take over the dining room table, but that doesn’t work for storing fabric, yarn, fiber, and all the millions of doohickeys and whatsits that I accumulate.  So things are scattered in various parts of the house, and too many of the smaller items build up in the work space and get in the way.

In an effort to improve the situation, I made box shelves.

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It took a number of days.  Once I got the right wood (5″ wide hemlock boards) I went to L2’s house to get a refresher course on using a table saw.  I have a small, portable one – like most of my larger tools, it is the result of a visit by my brother.  He sees home improvements that can be made, always resulting in me owning tools that I may never use again.  (I have two jigsaws now, because I forgot I had the first one when he swung through town and needed one to work on a kitchen project for me.)

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Then L2 taught me that there are corner clamps.  I’m a fan!  And we used her air compressor (though my brother had me get one of those too) to shoot very fine nails into the secured corners to create the boxes.

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Out of two eight foot boards I got three boxes and a 4 inch left-over.  Once I was home again from my power tools seminar, I did the finishing work.  I needed to fill in a few spots – the wood putty was a bit dried out, but it worked OK – and sand.  Stain I had on hand, and I bought a small sample size of limeade colored paint for the inside.

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They aren’t perfect.  I need to remember next time to put the nails on the tops and bottoms, not on the sides where they are going to show more.  I taped the edges when I was painting, but they still aren’t perfect, so I’ll need to go buy a razor blade to clean that up.  And I haven’t yet tried the keyhole fasteners for the back that I intend to use to hang them.  (Mostly because I can’t figure out where I put them.)  But the shelves match the picture I had in my head, so I’m happy with them.

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I need to make one more, for symmetry, as they are going to hang in pairs on either side of the window, making space for button jars, thread spools, and other items that accumulate on top of the cutting and ironing surfaces.