Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Post-Christmas Reveal

First, someone has asked the status of my modular shawl, so I have decided to start each post (until it is complete) with the tally: 21 squares completed out of 45 so far.

The teaser pictures of work in progress were of a series of boxes I decorated to give to family members for Christmas. The presents have all been opened, so I can now share more pictures with you. These are cigar boxes that I "upcycled" by sanding, woodburning, painting and varnishing. You can see a gallery of close up images, along with a few shots of my work area, HERE. These boxes took more hours than you might expect, but I think the results are worth it. I like them, anyway. I was not able to make enough for my numerous family, so those who didn't receive hand-made gifts can look forward to something special next year.

A final note to wrap up the Name-the-Bear issue: Despite the many suggestions (both online and off) inspired by his flight jacket, I do plan a change of attire and Laura's suggestion of Seamus has won. Winston was a close second. I will be sure to post a new picture when I get around to knitting him the sweater.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

This bear needs a name

I have been absent from the blog world because I have been busy working on Christmas secrets. Tonight I zipped by Nevada Fine Arts for supplies, then took a brief frivolous meander through the "antique" mall next door. Among the tattered issues of Life, chipped ashtrays touting tourist destinations, and other dubious collectibles, sat this bear looking clearly depressed. I looked a bit closer and saw that his aviator jacket declared him to be a Bialosky Bear. I already have a treasured Bialosky Bear that my mother brought out every Christmas to sit among the garlands on top of the bookcases. Today's bear was exceedingly thriftily priced, and without intervention faced a grim future as a "collectible". I still almost passed him by, until I read the small print on his jacket: "100% Loyal and True". And such an earnest expression. He came home with me.

First job was to clean up a few stiff spiky patches. Seems this bear had a close encounter with peanut butter. What peanut butter eater would give up such a loyal bear?

Since I already have a Bialosky, this bear needs his own name. So please help out by suggesting a name.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Snow day!

Campus is closed today due to weather. It is a sudden windfall of time. Sure, there is plenty of work I can do from home, and the snow means plenty of shoveling to come, but somehow a snow day makes one feel like a kid released from school. I think I will start by crawling back into bed to a bit....

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Much mulch

Much mulch
Originally uploaded by Purple Fuzzy Mittens
This is what I am doing during the holiday weekend. Hint: Don't buy mulch the day after a rain storm - the cedar absorbs the rain and the bags get really heavy.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Shhhh... Don't tell!

I had a very successful shopping trip to the local smoke shop today. No, I have not taken up the evil habit. The Tinder Box, down by Borders, sells its empty cigar boxes and gives 100% of the proceeds to the local Food Bank. Since this store sells upscale cigars, a little sorting through the pile finds nicely made wooden boxes, most with metal hinges and catches. As you can see, I scored quite a nice stack. Some are even lined with velvet. The wood they are made of varies, but is usually fairly soft, making the boxes easy to sand and woodburn. I picked up a couple to experiment with on an earlier trip and have completed the first of the boxes. It will be a Christmas present for a family member. I'm not saying which...!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Back to fiberish pursuits

Time for an update on my various fiber projects. Despite many distractions, I have progressed a little. I have completed square 18 of the 45-square modular shawl. The slow progress would be discouraging if it weren't for how wonderful the merino/silk yarn feels.

I completed a pair of socks. I knit them toe up using Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock yarn (Gone Fishin' colorway) Mockery Socks stitch pattern.
It was hard to see the stitch definition past the stripyness of the yarn, so after I passed the heels I stopped twisting the yarnovers closed by knitting in the back of the stitch above. I like the result better than the basic Mockery pattern, but do not think I will use it again. One note to consider if you use the Mockery stitch pattern: the pattern skews the fabric so a flat toe doesn't line up with the heel. Using a round toe will take care of the problem.

About a month ago I finished spinning up some hand-painted alpaca in soft spring greens. The three loosely-spun fluffy skeins have been sitting on the coffee table, calling to me with an insidious siren song. For some reason they want to become a lacy, squishy, snuggly neckwarmer/cowl. I looked through scarf and mitten patterns, but no, they resisted any attempt to be diverted from a cowl future. I gave in and a cowl they will make. I am using the Ridged Lace Cowl pattern I found on Ravelry. The pattern calls for worsted-weight angora and results in a 15 inch deep tube that is scrunched down around the neck. The designer must live in the arctic! My yarn is 100% alpaca and I will be eliminating a pattern repeat or two, in order to avoid heat prostration. After knitting mostly with 1s and 2s, worsted weight on size 8 needles goes incredibly fast!

The only other fiber news is that I am spinning up some slightly hairy suri alpaca to make a new purse, and as soon as I finish the cowl I plan to get back to the purple hoodie. Oh! and I need to cast on another pair of socks.

That's all for now!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Relaxing weekend

This picture was Saturday. Sunday turned windy, so picture it without the awning.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

More Trailer details

In addition to attending a very enjoyable spinning guild meeting, I was able to spend much of the weekend working on some finishing touches for the trailer. The rebuild provided additional storage cabinets, but wouldn't you know it Home Depot has discontinued the existing cabinet hardware?! I took this as an opportunity and bought unfinished wood knobs to decorate. I like the results so much that I think I'll do some for my bedroom, too. I also burned and painted some outlet plates. The new mattress is in place, along with featherbed and new purple sheets. I installed some new latches on the under bed storage door to keep it from flying open in transit and I added a baby-lock to the rear hatch so that it can be propped open just enough for electrical plug-in. Still need to find flooring and two 12-volt reading lights.

She is looking so cozy that I can't wait to take her on the road!

Monday, October 05, 2009

A peek at the inside

The little 1953 trailer is home. I have just started to fill her up with all the bits and pieces of camping. She still needs a mattress, flooring, 2 light fixtures, and a few other things. Here is a picture taken through the back window.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Making a Splash (backsplash that is)

The little trailer is moving along. The outside is done, the inside is paneled, and the stove and counter top have arrived. I turn my attention to a backsplash around the stove area. Tile and a bumpy road -- um, no. Formica-ish stuff - super-yuck. I actually considered lining the area with some of the cast-off outer aluminum, but Pete confirmed my concern that it would oxidize and be unworkable. He suggested copper since it would look great with the birch paneling and would patina nicely. Smooth copper would be too techy-modern for me. I decided to purchase copper sheeting and beat the bejeezus out of it.

I didn't know how much work this would be.

Acquiring the sheeting was a story in itself. The man at the sheet metal store told me that yes, they had it, but "that stuff is like gold - really expensive." Furthermore, when informed of my backsplash intentions, he told me I would regret it and it would gather dust and I really should reconsider. Since the office at this place had dust piles and spiderwebs in all the corners, it seemed unlikely that he could be a compulsive duster. Hmm... I assured him that I was determined to buy copper, so he rang up my $47 worth of "just like gold". As I handed over the cash he said that business is really slow and and he might as well just go home. I left Eeyore in his dusty office and escaped with my copper.

Next came the pounding. I had naively assembled a variety of objects to pound with in hopes of creating interesting patterns. None made so much as a dent except the balpeen hammer. Okey doke - a simple hammer job should look kinda rustic and catch the light nicely.

Much, much work. Leaving the plastic coating on to avoid scratches, I wailed away at the two sheets, frequently flipping them to beat on the other side to keep them relatively flat. A sheepskin on top of a solid wood chair made a nice solid work surface with just enough give. If you try this, I recommend frequent rest periods. Despite the stiff shoulder, the effect is worth it. I'll deliver the panels for installation on Sunday.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


The outside is mostly done. Doesn't she look amazing?!

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Every DIYer has to occasionally give in to the reality that it is not always possible or practical to accomplish every project alone. The extent of water damage in the little trailer, and the fact that it won't fit through the garage door (tall 1950's trailer and short 1950's garage door) led me to seek professional help. (No, not the psychological kind, at least not so far.) I sought out the skills of Pete and Joseph of Sierra Trailer Restoration, just over the "hill" in Nevada City, CA. They specialize in restoring vintage Airstreams, but are happy to work on "canned hams" as well. Last Saturday I delivered the trailer into their capable hands, leaving her a veritable dwarf among a collection of giant silver Airstreams. Tuesday evening Pete called to warn me not to panic when I received the forthcoming pictures. Here she is, laid bare to the bones. This weekend I will zip back over the hill so we can discuss options for the rebuild.

Monday, August 10, 2009


In a burst of energy I decided to pull down the rest of the wallpaper on the ceiling of the little trailer. Yikes! Seems I have a few leaks. That's the aluminum outer skin you can see through the hole in the last picture. I've got lots of work ahead of me!

Monday, August 03, 2009


Two more home projects - one large and one small. First the small: Several years ago I converted the front hall closet into a pantry. Great for food storage, but left a need for alternate coat storage. My brand new orange paint job called for coordinated coat hooks. I found some unfinished shaker peg rails at Lowes. A little woodburning and painting and voila! And yes, I did use wall anchors to secure the rails. Mitten storage was accomplished by hanging a felted bag from one of the pegs.

The bigger project has a long way to go. Having determined that the massively ugly and unhygienic kitchen carpeting was not glued down with asbestos-ridden glue, I couldn't wait to start tearing it up. I spent Friday evening tearing up about half of it. Then I spent much of Saturday pouring boiling water on petrified carpet glue and scraping with a variety of implements. Not a fun process on a particularly hot day. Very swampy. Sadly the installers used an orbital sander to rough up the 1956 linoleum, so the floor revealed is less than optimum. Even damaged, the scarred linoleum is vastly preferable to icky carpeting. Down the road there will be tile. Until then, there will be lots more scraping.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Back from vacation

As the title says, I am back. I took my very first cruise. It was beyond amazing! In one week I took about 2,000 pictures and ate enough food for about a month. I am slowly weeding through the pictures amid about 500 back emails, and a pile of mail and phone messages. Here is a picture of the view from my hotel room in Vancouver, the evening before boarding the ship. (No, that is not our ship - ours was around the corner of the cruise ship terminal.)

I knitted some during the cruise, but there was so much to see and do (and so many meals to be had) that my progress was limited. I have the first six mitered squares done and am working on the seventh. Each square should block to about 8.5" x 8.5". The plan is to make a checkerboard shawl using the 2 similar colorways, with an added lace border around. It should work up into an almost featherweight summer shawl (stole, wrap, whatever).

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Change of plans

The purple hoody will not be done in time for vacation, so it has been set aside for a while. I need good travel-worthy take-along knitting. Lace weight yarn for easy toting about and a mindlessly simple pattern for social knitting. Jeanne assured me that the Shoalwater Shawl pattern would be a good choice. I splurged on some Lorna's Laces "Helen's Lace" yarn, liking both the color and the name. Turns out Jeanne is a much better knitter than I am. The Shoalwater pattern is doable, but not mindlessly simple for me. Another project set aside. Instead I have started a simple stole using the modular knitting described in "Knit to be Square". Helen's Lace on size 6 needles should make it light and stretchy.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Zachary standing in for test

This is a test of the Flickr to Blogger capabilities. If you can read it, then it worked.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Orange Hallway

This one is a bit daring, but I'm happy with it anyway. I burned and painted the bulletin board frame to add to the festive color scheme. I used the yellow from the bedroom to paint the linen cupboard doors.

Monday, June 22, 2009

More home work

I have learned many lessons in the course of home improvement projects. This week's lesson is that the ease of a painting project is directly related to how many doorways the space has. One would think that painting the hallway in a little house like mine would be a quick and easy job. Not so. There are ten openings into the hallway: front door, kitchen, livingroom, 3 bedrooms, bathroom, linen closet, pantry closet, and furnace closet. Each opening, plus the ceiling-wall interface must be taped and then cut in with a brush. And every couple of feet along the hall required dismounting, moving, and remounting the step ladder. By the time I finished priming both walls and ceiling I felt like I had spent hours in a particularly brutal step-exercise class. Hopefully the heavy-duty ibuprofen will work its magic and I will be ready to tackle painting the ceiling tomorrow night and the walls Wednesday night.

Here's some pictures of the process so far:

Damaged drywall,

Repaired drywall (I learned this process in a home repair class taken at the local community college),

and wall primed and ready for painting.

And for those who have asked - the purple hoody is coming along nicely. Just half a sleeve, the hood, 2 pockets and the button band to go!