Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Decluttering by Repurposing or Use What You Have

In the last few months, I have become the proud owner of George, a Hansencrafts Minispinner in beautiful cherry wood.  George also has cherry WooLee Winder bobbins and a cherry Ogle Lazy Kate.  George’s wood is absolutely beautiful, and his design is functional, but he is not a decorative object in the same way that Matilda the Ashford Traveller is.  Furthermore, I am somewhat more protective of George in that he has moving parts that would not be so easily replaced if someone abused him. (One of the beauties of an Ashford is that you can find parts readily or use fishing line, bead lacing, cup hooks and springs from the hardware store.)  George came with an attractive tote bag, but I’m a real klutz, and the person that I trust least around an unprotected George is me!  Therefore, I’ve been looking for a suitable home or suit of armor or something for him.  The most popular choice among minispinner owners, particularly those who travel and take their spinners along or who go every week to a spinning group, is the Zuca bag.  Zuca bags are the wheelie bags that you see the Olympic ice skaters pulling or pushing as they arrive at the rink.  Beautiful bright colors, sturdy frames that double as a table or a seat, and, if you pick the right models, flashy wheels.  The bags and frames are sold separately, so you can mix and match fashion choices.  They are also supposed to fly well.  That’s in a plane, and I’ve wondered if part of that is because the crew thinks they’re flying part of the Olympic Team.  (However, if they got a look at most spinners, they probably wouldn’t think so.)  Zucas are also pricey.

My need was for something sturdy to store my minispinner and accessories and very occasionally take him somewhere for a visit.  A Ravelry entry to the Minispinner group sparked my memory.  One spinner had purchased a portable file box for hers.  I remembered that I had, in my own garage, sitting there taking up floor space, TWO portable file boxes with outdated files I brought home from school when I retired.

This morning, I loaded them into the back of the SUV, drove around to the dumpster, and emptied them.  Then I washed off the cobwebs.  One of the boxes is going to be home to George himself.  I used some open? celled foam packing from another box to make a domed end protector for his switches.  Another strip holds that one in place and will protect his tension knob.

If I were going to carry him many places, I would want protection all around him, but I can also do that with fiber.

Here is George’s home, partially loaded:

That is George, his foot control, his power source, his orifice threader, and his papers, with their attached allen wrenches.  There is also room for one more bobbin and some fiber, and a tiny spinning toolkit.  (I have the box, but I haven’t loaded it up yet.)  My Ogle Lazy Kate would also fit, but there’s not much point in having it in there unless I put in a third bobbin. I do have that flexibility also.

The second file box will hold the Kate, extra bobbins, the car power source.  I do not as yet have a battery for George.  When I get one, I can put it wherever it is needed.

Before you mention that I do not have wheels, I do have one of those wheeled file carts from Office Depot.  This box will sit in that one, so I can pull it along with me when I need to.  In a pinch, the spinner could sit on top of this box just like on a Zuca.  I, however, cannot use this box as a seat, and I’m afraid that I have not worked out a system to replace the flashing wheels, darn it!  However, I’ve spent $0.00, and I decluttered two things—useless file space in the garage and scattered fiber equipment parts in the house.  I think that’s a win!  (Don’t count two more wet skeins of yarn hanging on the oven door!)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

#1 Is Done, but not Blocked

This is a picture of the unblocked Special Olympics scarf—not that there will be much to the blocking, just washing and spreading out flat to dry nicely.  You can see the unfinished mitered blanket in the background.  I really like this yarn much better for a scarf than Super Saver, even though it is somewhat splitty to knit with.

I’m halfway through the second scarf, which is the same pattern—the Yarn Harlot’s One-Row Handspun Scarf—but instead of being half and half, the scarf will have alternating quarters of the two colors.  I still think this scarf is a wonderful stitch pattern which seems to maximize yardage use while still making a scrunchy and comfy wearable.  . 

I’m watching episodes of Swamp People, openers of the new season of shows like The Closer and Haven and listening to audiobooks.  The scarves are “automatic” enough that I may try propping my Kindle and seeing if I can do the reading/knitting thing that I keep hearing others talk about, using the read aloud feature to turn the pages automatically.  That process may take more coordination than I have.

We still have had no rain, with daily temps hovering around 100 degrees.  When I went to the grocery store at midday, the temp was 90, which is practically a cold front!

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Finally, a pick-up-and-put-down project

After a mix-up and a month-and-a-half-long delay, the yarn arrived a couple of days ago for me to begin knitting scarves for this coming winter’s Special Olympics.  This year, the colors are red and navy, but knitters and crocheters are not limited to Red Heart Super Saver—there is also a set of the same colors in Red Heart Soft.  I don’t think this yarn is as sturdy in many ways as the Super Saver.  If I were knitting a blanket that would have to endure frequent washings and being dragged around by a child, the tougher yarn would be my choice, but I did not feel that it worked well for scarves last year.  I used as big a needle as I could get by with and maintain any kind of stitch definition, but the scarves just did not drape well.  The Soft, in the color Really Red, is working out much better.  The pattern is the Yarn Harlot’s One-Row Handspun Scarf.  This pattern is textured, unisex, reversible, and readily foldable into a narrower scarf if the wearer desires.  And, of course, memorizing a one-row pattern is handy.  Each scarf has to have both colors; this one will be 2 1/2 feet of red and 2 1/2 feet of navy.  I experimented last year, and found different neat ways to tie that combination that are quite suitable for either gender as well as the fairly broad age range of the athletes.

I have added a few more book comments—too brief to be called reviews—to the Goodreads list in the right sidebar. 

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Knitting Psychology and Weaving FOs and Vocabulary

I am now 8/21 of the way through my mitered afghan.  It is going very slowly, and I have figured out why.  It is the only project that I have OTN right now, other than a pair of red lace socks that I need to finish up.  I will have to look up the chart and all that again for that second sock.  This project is in those discrete little squares, which should make it seem to go faster, but I find that instead of picking it up for a quick row or two in spare moments, I am waiting until I have a block of time (pun accidental, but appropriate) to complete an entire square.  Otherwise, I don’t knit for just a row or two.  I hadn’t realized how much of my knitting was done betwixt and between other activities.  I must get another low-mental-concentration project OTN.

In the title above, “FO” does not mean “Finished Object” as it usually does on a knitting blog.  Instead, it means “Found Object.”  In cleaning out some stored old family items when we sold our business, I found two of the tiny handheld weaving looms.  I know these belonged to my grandmother, because I already have my mother’s.  Hers was a Loomette, in great condition.  These are both Weave-its.  The pin configuration is different.  Here is the 2-inch, in its box:

And here is the 4-inch:

Unfortunately, the box on the 4-inch will have to be discarded because of mildew.  I am going to have to bleach the loom as well.  This box is interesting because the paper tape on the outside shows that the loom came from the Haile Drug Store.  I don’t think that was local here.  I’m assuming it may have been in the Dallas area because that is where my grandparents moved from in the 1920s.  I remember going back for a visit as a small child and going to a really neat old drug store with the soda fountain with the bent wire back type of chairs at little tables.  I think it was in Lancaster.  If anyone knows any history, I would be glad to find out.  Fortunately, warping instructions are available on-line and there is a “Looms to Go” Ravelry group.  These will be fun to use little scraps of yarn.

Vocabulary—While I am quite familiar with the British reference to “bespoke” tailoring and to its use in American English to refer to those wonderfully elegant London-made suits created especially for an individual, I noticed on HGTV House Hunters International yesterday a reference to a “bespoke” door.  I googled and then wikied, and found out that there are many uses of the word.  In the UK, there is even a car manufacturer that operates this way.  And, of course, in the 21st century, the term is even applied to software.  On the program, the door was being described by a British-heritage real estate agent who was selling a French house in Brittany to a British family.  I wonder if this is a word that will sneak into French eventually.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Still Knitting and Charity Opportunities

I’m still knitting on the mitered blanket. 

I know that practically everyone out there who knits does some charity knitting, but I wanted to mention two opportunities to knit quick projects.  If you look in the right sidebar of this blog, you will see the link to Hats for Sailors.  It will take you to the web site.  There’s also a Ravelry group. The story of how this project started a year or so ago is really interesting.  A hat is a quick knit, and many more hats are needed for the first deadline in August.  This is a wonderful place to use up an odd ball of superwash wool from your stash.  There are no color requirements, but the Navy requires washable 100% wool as a safety precaution. 

The other project is knitting scarves for the Special Olympics.  If you Google, there is a web site, but there is also a group on Ravelry and a group on Facebook.  Yarns are inexpensive and specified; there are dozens of patterns or you can make your own, and knit or crochet are equally acceptable.  Deadlines and numbers needed vary by state, so check to be sure. 

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