Tuesday, August 28, 2012

When Not to DIY

We all have different comfort zones about what we want to do around the house. This past weekend I hit the edge of one of mine. After doing a survey of online instructions (my first step for most unfamiliar projects), I decided that the leaking faucet in the bathroom wasn't really something I wanted to tackle myself. I dislike plumbing in general- I don't have the right tools or enough experience to feel comfortable with it. In this case, however, I considered the age of the fixture (Old As Dirt*), the state of my free time at home (Very Little, and Fully Scheduled With Keeping the Couch from Flying Around the Room While Playing With Yarn), and the likely aggravation level (Astronomically High), and I punted. I called the plumber and cast on some mittens. I felt like a wuss.

I felt a whole lot better about it Saturday when the plumber came, and showed us the severely corroded sink trap. I knew the under-sink shutoffs were immovably stiff. In fact, they were so corroded he could not move them either, and had to shut the water off at the main so he could replace them. As loud banging and sawing noises emerged from the bathroom, Cookie looked on interestedly, Biscuit hid under the bed,  I knit mittens, and the plumber made repeated trips back to his truck for more and different tools  "It's being difficult," he confessed, but with a glint of determination in his eyes.   Some kind of major power tool added its snarl to the mix.  I began to congratulate myself on my perspicuity in declining to attempt this myself.


Then he had to make a trip out for parts. "Before you go," I said. "I wondered if while you were here, you could take a look at the kitchen faucet." He gave me a wary look, and followed me into the kitchen. "How old is this fixture, do you know?" he asked. When I assured him that it was much newer- in the 10-15 year range- he nodded, said he would pick up some parts he might need and take a look at it after he finished in the bathroom.
(The Karisma mittens, done at last.  Though I had trouble parsing the instructions for the tip decreases and just stopped the cable pattern early rather than try and unravel the designer's intent. I think the tip decreases could have used a little chart of their own.)

The kitchen faucet proved recalcitrant as well, but no match for our stalwart plumber, as he extracted broken pieces of the valve out of the faucet neck. Three hours, one new fixture, new undersink piping and a rebuild of the kitchen faucet later, I wrote him a very large check with barely a wince. He earned every penny. And every time I go into the bathroom and don't see dripping or turn on the kitchen faucet and don't see leaking, I get a little thrill of pleasure. And I'm ecstatic that I didn't try to do it myself.

*Contemporary with the house, which makes it more than 45 years old.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Random Hat

Whenever I need knitting and either don't have time, reference material, or brainpower to figure out what the next project is, I cast on a hat.  Or mittens, but I've got quite a bit of yarn that it suitable for hats at the moment.  Take this one:
The purple is a gorgeous wool angora, single ply.  Wouldn't stand up to the kind of wear that mittens get (at least in my world) and I prefer mittens to be machine washable.  But it makes a perfectly charming hat.  This one makes me think of black raspberry and vanilla ice cream.

And then the latest gray hat: 
The yarn is too light (in color, not weight) for mittens.  But fortunately this is the last gray hat.  After two sweaters and three hats, I'm finally down to less than a skein left...if you see this yarn again, it will only be in company with a companion color.  I take a certain satisfaction in using ALL the yarn!

It hasn't been all hats, all the time, however.  There is a lurking sock.

I'm really loving the way the colors are mixing in this.  The yarn is Lang Jawoll Bambus, a wool/bamboo/nylon blend.  It's silky-soft (and rather slippery) but I'm thinking it's going to make marvelous summer socks.  I'm really torn between the idea of just making them regular sock length, or making them shorter and using the extra yarn with another partial skein of bamboo to make a second pair. 

And then there's the ever-present question (after finishing something)--now what?  For once it's morning, I got plenty of sleep (before being roused to save cats from Imminent Starvation), I've eaten and I'm not rushing off anywhere for at least an hour.  Maybe that's enough time to grab a pattern for a kid sweater and see what I can do with the big cone of yarn in my sport yarn box. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Pro-tips of the Week

1. Observe the orientation of the hole in the sippy-top of your thermal mug before attempting to drink. This will save you pouring coffee down your shirt.   (This alas follows the incident some years ago when I poured a regular glassful of something down my shirt and my younger sister asked me in a sweet, kindly tone, "Robin, do we need a cup with a sippy-top?"  For the record, the answer was 'yes'....)

2. Check the size of the needles you grabbed out of your bag before casting on. Vaguely remembering what you threw in a few days ago is no substitute for actually noticing that you're casting on using sixes instead of eights.

3. When the hat comes out sized for a 30" diameter head, do not assume that it will magically become smaller just because you knit another couple of inches. Frog it now.

4. Going to bed early instead of doing dishes may be result in being better rested, but it will do nothing to clean the dishes.

5. If your boss didn't give you the details of the job he wants you to follow up on before he left on vacation it's probably because it's already late.

6. Driving southbound on the northbound lane of the highway is a bad idea*.

7. When in doubt**, knit a hat***.

*This was not me. Yes, I did call 911 when I saw the other guy doing it. Along with a zillion other people.
**What can I say, there's been a lot of doubt this week.
***Unless you're a cat, in which case you should lounge on the sun porch.  Assuming you're not already busy subduing the yarn.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


So, I kind of suspected these might be done next, if only because over the weekend, I had taken them out of time-out, unraveled the decreases on the one that was too short, and then adjusted the yarn quantities so that the dark blue would run out in the same spot on both mittens.   But I didn't put it past them to find some new way to annoy me.

Nevertheless, here they are- kid Salt-and-Pepper mittens, inspired by the pattern in Robin Hansen's Fox and Geese and Fences:

These were an experiment.  You may recall that I got a large box of sport weight yarn a few months back.   Well, these mittens are made from some of that.  They're sized for a two-year old.  On the theory that at least they wouldn't take long if they were really annoying.  Guess what?  Yeah, they took a while, and they're really annoying.  Colorwork mittens are not going to be my plan for using up the sport weight yarn.   Hats are fine, they just need more stitches around.  Mittens are rather more fiddly, since they need proportions adjusted in the row count as well as the stitch count.    Mind you, I'm not saying I won't try it again, particularly if I find a pattern written for this weight of yarn.    But it's not going to be my go-to project for this particular box of yarn. 

Biscuit liked them, however,  and helped me finish them by subduing the yarn.

I think it's scared, don't you? 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Happiness Is a Stripy Pair of Socks

Even when things get a little crazy, you can always wear happy socks, right?

And less happy but no less finished, a plain hat for the gift bin. 

Next up...well, I have no idea what the next FO will be since I appear to be attacking them in a completely haphazard fashion.   We can all all be surprised, right?