Monday, December 27, 2010

Giftmas 1.0 Menagerie

I found all of these patterns for free on Ravelry. Froggie was made using Ribbit except that I couldn't get the eyes to look right until I used these buttons which had long vertical holes that I modified by drilling smal ircular holes in the center top and bottom. Then I used liberal amounts of black crochet thread to make the pupils.

His friend Lambie is Fuzzy Lamb from Lulu. This pattern was by far the most pleasurable to knit and put together despite it being knit flat and sewn together.

The only modification that I made to the pattern was to add a small fuzzy tail. I didn't even bother knitting, I just wrapped the yarn into an oblong french knot.

And finally the last was Marisol the mouse whose pattern is unfortunately only available on Ravelry.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Helena Baby Cardigan

I finally got the chance to give the Helena Baby Cardi that I knit to my niece Phoebe. I got the yarn (Katia Alba) at a little yarn shop in Rochester NY while we were on vacation. The store happened to have just enough in the discount bin. The buttons were a serendipitous find at Joann's Fabric.

It's the middle of October and I'm watching out the window as snowflakes the size of my palm come down in front of the still mostly green trees and only a couple hours ago I was apple picking with Phoebe and her parents. It's a crazy year for weather!

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Random updates

I've had a bunch of potential posts popping up and swirling around in my brain over the past several months and not one of them has made it to the blog.

I was going to write about riding my motorcycle while wearing pearls. I was going to write about the smell of popcorn and chocolate every so often as I'm riding home through Clinton. I was going to write about how much being 30 feels just like being 29 and about what I've learned in the past year. I've also been meaning to take and post pictures of the baby cardigans that I'm making for my now 1 year old nieces, and how I managed to knit 80% of the first one in the week that I bought the yarn and how it's taken me several months since and I still haven't finished either of them. I was sure that I would have them done with time to spare before their respective birthdays. It turns out that I'm most productive as a knitter when I'm away from home and don't have a house to putter around.

I'm now working full time again, and this past weekend I've been sick with a cold which is sort of ironic since my new job is tracking flu data and I spent Thursday registering hundreds of people for flu shots. All I can figure is that I wore myself out and ran down my immune system giving the cold an opportunity to settle in. Consequently I spent the weekend snuggling with a kitty under the covers and indulging myself in anything I felt like eating. The downside to this mini break is that life rolls on and there are things to be done...

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Look, a knitting post!

It's a medium sized hobo-style bag based on shape and dimensional specs given to me by a friend. I didn't follow a pattern, I made it up as I knit. The whole thing started with a 2 x 2 narrow, ribbed rectangle for the bottom. I picked up stitches on both of the long edges of the bottom rectangle and knit the sides up as simple stockinette rectangles. The short sides and strap were knit in one piece from one end to the other, onto the bag, conceptually like a french braid, I picked up stiches along the edges of both sides and the bottom of the bag and knit the edge stitches into the cable as I went up until I got to the top, then knit a flat (5-stranded) cable across the length of the strap, and then used the same general process to knit down the edges on the opposite end of the bag. The only sewing up was the small cable details at the top side edges of the bag. I had planned to do a much more intricate cable on the top edge, but everything I tried was completely lost in the slubbiness of the thick cotton yarn. I started and frogged them about a million times. It is completely lined which should prevent any stretching and sagging of the knit, and it also allowed me to add the checkbook pocket that she requested. The lining is a woven cotton fabric in a slightly lighter shade of the same color (the picture color is pretty accurate). In the end I'm fairly happy with how it turned out, and it feels great to finally have it off my to do list.

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Friday, May 08, 2009

Where have I been?

This blog has been quiet since March of 2008. I have to admit that it doesn't sound that long ago. During that time I've gone from being a full-time student, to a full-time employee, to a part-time self-employed computer consultant. I've been working for a company called Double Exposure Technology Consulting in Manhattan. Most of my work there has involved converting PC users to Mac users. I transfer data from the PCs, I show the users how to use their new Macs to do everything that their PCs did and more, and I stick around to answer questions. What I've been most surprised about is how much I actually like one-on-one human interfacing. It turns out that I have the patience of a saint. If you don't know me personally, then let me explain...

I grew up around computers. My father has spent almost his whole adult life working as a computer programmer. I may be giving away my age to say that I started learning how to program computers at the same time that I learned how to read (don't ask me what that did for my spelling and grammar... it wasn't pretty; and please don't point out my current failings in that area, an ego can only take so much!). When I was a kid I played with all sorts of computers, and all sorts of programming languages. I used the original Macintosh SE, a TI, and the computer I spent the most time with through high school was a Linux box that my Dad helped me build. I worked in the IT dept in college, and started working for Big Blue shortly after graduation. And perhaps it's hard to believe now, but I was, at least internally, the very picture of one of those nerdy computer geeks who doesn't know how to talk to actual people. My saving grace was that I had a very "emo" (before there was such a word) poetry phase in high school that built up a foundation of language and emotional awareness that set the stage for a social blossoming in college. But I'm naturally an introvert. I just like spending time by myself, with my thoughts. I always thought that I'd be the lone wolf programmer who didn't know or care that the world was going on outside my cubicle.

Clearly I've broken out of my shell. Sure there were inklings that I would love to teach: I had a semester stint as a math tutor, I trained a group of fellow IBMers on a particular automation technology using materials that I designed myself, and I am always ready to jump in and help a newbie do something that I've previously muddled my way through. I've discovered that I love that social interaction. I love helping people. I think part of what makes me good at it is that I don't pre-judge. I know what it's like to be a smart person who just happens to not know something, so when I'm answering questions about the computer, there's no condescension. People's brains all work differently and everyone comes to it with a not only a different level of experience, but also a different quality of experience. The technology that you were exposed to and your qualitative experiences surrounding it during your young adulthood affects a lot of your views about technology. It's very different to teach someone who is fluent in a different operating system from someone whose experience with electronics is limited to typewriters and microwaves. There are plenty of people who will relinquish the technology in life to their spouse, partner, or kids not because they can't learn it, but because it's better for their primary relationships.

So, yes, I love teaching. And not in an academic setting. I'm not sure if I'll every return to academia. I'm not counting it out, but right now there are bills to pay!

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

A gift from Affectioknitter

Affectioknitter sent me this lovely package. It's a handknit dishcloth, vegan citrus soap (yum!), herbal tea, and personnally embossed notecards! So sweet, thanks Affectioknitter!


Monday, February 25, 2008

Rev Lisa's art.

I bought these paintings from Rev. Lisa a long time ago before she left for warmer climes. Sorry about the terrible photograph...

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Oh my! It's almost Valentine's Day...

I'm somewhat shocked that it's been so long since I posted. This blog, though named for my love of programming and knitting morphed overtime into an almost full-time renovation blog. Since I haven't worked on the renovation in months, there hasn't been much to blog here. I have been blogging over here though. It seems that now that my kitchen is functional, I'd rather be cooking in it than painting the trim.

I have been knitting something, off and on, ...more off than on actually. I haven't posted pictures of it yet because it's a gift, and I have a long way to go on it.

On the programming front, I have been working on a little project in my free time that I hope will someday morph into something highly functional, at least for my own sake if no one else's, but I'm trying to limit working on it until I finish math stuff and raise my income level to something sustainable.

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Monday, December 31, 2007

End of year wrap-up

I've been reading a lot of blogs lately, but I haven't been blogging myself. Partly it's been the hectic end of semester/holiday crush, and partly it has been a terrible disappointment in the photos my camera is willing to produce. Without a flash things are a blurry mess, with a flash the photos are flat and washed out. Nevertheless, I will push on.

The kitchen has been in a state of mostly finished since Thanksgiving. It's quite functional, but the trim and some touchup paint need to be done in order for it to be truly presentable. I swear that I'm not going to leave it this way. I just wanted to get the semester out of the way and then I will start working on the finishing touches one section at a time.

In this photo you can see the base of the cabinets has been boxed in with flooring. I decided to use quarter round for the corners of the peninsula, but it still needs to be puttied, stained and sealed.

The side of the kitchen that you can't see has some temporary shelves, our old refrigerator and the blue tiled bar table that my sister designed and built for us. Eventually that side of the kitchen will be finished with upper and lower cabinets, built-in under cabinet fridge and freezer units, and an above-counter built in microwave. Hopefully all that will happen relatively soon, but it will have to wait until we have liquid assets to purchase it all with.

Since Thanksgiving, we've been doing a lot more cooking and I've become something of a bread baker. I searched for a good bread recipe and have settled on the NY Times no-knead-bread recipe, with a few modifications of course. Originally I used my Le Creuset dutch oven and the corn meal / oat bran that the recipe recommends. It was somewhat difficult to get the dough into the preheated pot because it is so sticky and fluid. I also wasn't crazy about the crust that it produced. Instead I have settled on a different tactic. I use either a glass loaf pan with its own lid that I grease with Earth Balance spread, or I use a metal loaf pan and form a tinfoil tent. I still cook covered for 30 minutes and then 20-30 minutes uncovered. It's about the best bread I've ever made and I've taken to making a double batch every few days. It's so easy, practically makes itself.

Using the same dough we made this pizza that passed muster with my omni DH. It's very simple, I pre-baked the crust, oiled on top with olive oil, on a silpat, then topped with Follow Your Heart Mozzarella, marinara (if you put the sauce over the cheese, it helps it stay moist and melt better) then red and green bell pepper slices, Trader Joe's Meatless balls. Put this in a 350 degree oven until the peppers are softened and then switch to broil until the cheese is nice and bubbly. While this was all baking I sauteed some onions until sweet and caramelized to top the pizza with when it came out. It was so worth the effort.

I'm finding that now that I have acres of countertop and new appliances cooking is a breeze. It's so much easier to make that slightly more complicated recipe and then have a dishwasher do the hard labor for me :)

Oh and there was knitting. I finished the candle-flame scarf that I started. It's so pretty to look at, but not quite what I was hoping for when I put it on. I think blocking might improve it, but I haven't gotten there yet. I also made a clapotis like every other knitter with internet access. I wasn't as pleased with it as I had thought I would be. I also started an afghan for my sister, and I think I will be knitting it for a very long time, despite the size 15 needles and double stranded worsted weight yarn.

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Renovation short list

I've updated the most recent to-do list with all the stuff I've accomplished and crossed off my list. I'm really on task when my classes aren't keeping me from it. I decided to make a short list for the timeline between now and when my family arrives for Thanksgiving.

- recut removable back panel for water-meter cabinet
- sand, caulk, prime, and paint all trim molding
- prime and paint windows

Dining room:
- putty, sand, prime, caulk, and paint all trim moldings
- prime, and paint windows
- install guide rails on window jambs

Bed room:
- prime and repaint window sashes (partially done)

and if there's time:
- touch up the wall paint here and there because of general carelessness.
- prime and paint doors
- install guide rails on window jambs and reinstall windows

probably won't get to these:
- finish sand and oil sink area butcherblock
- caulk, and seal/waterproof thresholds

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Molly, Queen of Cushions...


Knitting post

I've been feeling rather knit deprived of late due to the heavy workload for school and the final throws of the renovation. As a consequence, I had something of an attack of yarn fume gluttony last night. I spent a good deal of time updating my notebook on Ravelry and now I'm beginning to understand why it's so good. I've also experienced a lot of server errors over there :(

I was so inspired that I frogged the swatch I started over my mother's birthday weekend and started a headscarf/kerchief in the last ball of purple bamboo. I'm using the Candle Flame Shawl pattern on size 9 addi turbos.

In other knitting news, I've just now heard of Irish Cottage Knitting and stumbled upon this video of the yarn harlot knitting, first at full speed, then slowed down and explained using iMovie effects. Blows my mind, though I suppose I shouldn't feel too badly about my lack of speed since she has been knitting since she was a small child and she's enough older than me that she could have been my babysitter at the very least (Ms. Harlot, if you ever stumble upon my humble blog, I'm not saying you're old, just more experienced! :^)

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Friday, November 02, 2007

We Have Heat!

The Osterman Propane guy came out today and the heat is now on and working. He was a colorful fellow with stories of how he spent his life thinking that he hated homemade mac & cheese until finally trying it as an older chap and finding out it was actually really good. He also gave me a little history lesson on Ireland and the origins of the term Black Irish. I don't know if it's true or not, but it made for some interesting conversation.

I've got the first coat of joint compound in the gaps around the outlets that needed it. Unfortunately I'm caught in a struggle between math homework and just wanting to finish this renovation once and for all.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

cabinet hardware and electrical updates

Here are the door pulls that we picked out for the back-side of the peninsula cabinets. They are flat against the face of the cabinet until you flip them up with the tip of your finger and then pull.

Here you can see why I've chosen this design. That lavender/turquoise door in the background is the (unpainted) bathroom door. Since the peninsula forms one "wall" of the corridor leading to the bathroom, and I know that I will bump into and bruise myself on anything in my path, I wanted as little sticking out as possible.

Here is the outlet that Richie moved up a few inches for us, and was kind enough to fill in the gap in the dry-wall with the piece he cut out. Now I just need to fill in with some joint compound before I replace the butcher block shelf.

Here is the latest challenge/debate. The original plan had the peninsula cabinets centered on the wall between the bathroom and kitchen sink area, however the choice was made to push the peninsula closer to the center of the room to widen the "hallway" to the bathroom by a mere inch or so, it now means that the cabinet to the left of this picture is only half an inch back from the corner of this wall. If the originally planned for drawer pulls are used here it will mean that the cabinet to the right, between the sink and the corner will have to be a hinged door that swings toward the sink which will be awkward. We could get a larger version of the flat hardware on the opposite side of the peninsula for the drawers on the left of the corner so that they lay flush to the drawer fronts and allow the drawers in the cabinet to the right to open fully. The downside to this is that I've already drilled holes and installed the original hardware on half of the other cabinets and we'll end up with mismatched hardware on this one cabinet. Paul is willing to accept this but I'm a little more hesitant to mess with the uniformity of my original design. I have a feeling he'll win out on this one.

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Here is the test fit for the butcher block shelf over the back splash behind the sink.

Here you can see that the shelf actually interfers with the placement of this outlet. The current plan is to have Richie move the outlet up an inch or 2. Don't worry, I've turned off the circuit, so there's no risk.

Here you can see the faucet handle in the hot position, showing why the bevel was necessary. I did the bevel by turning my hand plane on a 45 degree angle and shaving away layers to the depth I wanted, Then using the palm sander to smooth over the sharp edges, then Paul followed it up with a fine grade sanding.

Here you can see the bamboo flooring that I've cut to box in the platform for the dishwasher.

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New Renovation To-Do list

Ok, first here's the old list, updated for clarification.

and here's the new list:

- bevel the front edge of the window shelf above the sink to accommodate the faucet handle in the hot position
- install window-shelf behind sink
- caulk joints around sink area
- finish sand and oil sink area butcherblock
- box around cabinet legs with bamboo flooring (Richie says the inspector will want this)
- recut removable back panel for water-meter cabinet because I messed it up. This one is tricky.
- install final window trim piece above sink (need window-shelf done first)
- re-glaze, prime, and paint windows
- strip (partially done), prime, and paint doors
- install guide rails on window jambs and reinstall windows
- putty, sand, caulk, prime, and paint all trim molding
- touch up the wall paint here and there because of general carelessness.
- assemble cabinet drawers
- install cabinet shelves, and doors (only 1 cabinet left to go!)
- install drawer pulls on remaining cabinets
- caulk, and seal/waterproof thresholds

Dining room:
- re-glaze, prime, and paint windows
- install guide rails on window jambs
- putty, sand, prime and paint all trim moldings

Basically we haven't touched the diningroom because it has been used as storage/work space for the kitchen appliances and cabinets. Once the cabinets are completely out of the way I'm finished using it as my wood shop, we can really get down to business.

Bed room:
- re-glaze, prime, and repaint window sashes (partially done)

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Offset U

I've found that I much prefer nice deep drawers for most kitchen stuff because you can pull them all the way forward to access items at the back of the cabinet. So as soon as I realized that having drawers under a sink was possible, I knew I wanted them. Otherwise the space under the sink seems to end up such a Hodge Podge of cleaning items and things that get lost. I saw the idea in Fine Homebuilding magazine (Fall/Winter 2004) while I was brainstorming the kitchen design.

The key here is that instead of the trap coming down directly off of the sink drain, the sink drain is connected to a 90 degree elbow and then a pipe leading to the back of the cabinet with a rather shallow slope. At the back of my IKEA cabinet there is a small gap between the back of the drawer and the back of the cabinet. The U trap can be positioned here so that it is parallel to the back of the cabinet before the piping takes another 90 degree turn to head out the back of the cabinet. This method can also be used to make a wheel chair friendly sink space.

I further expanded this theory by converting the standard IKEA cabinets in the sink area to have removable back walls. This did several things including allowing all of the plumbing including the dishwasher hoses to be behind the cabinet, moving the sink worktop inward into the room closer to the stove and fridge, thus tightening the natural work triangle, as well as creating a small space behind the cabinets to hide the water meter and instant-on water heater.

Unfortunately I fell in love with a big, double bowl, apron sink. The sink itself is much deeper than a traditional drop-in sink which is why I had to modify the top drawer to accommodate the pipes leading from the drains to the back of the cabinet. A shallower, single bowl sink would have made the conversion much less painful. Another point to note is that while the plumber who did the rough-in thought I was brilliant in my use of space, the plumber who came back for the finish work(same company, just different guy) thought I was completely nuts and couldn't imagine why anyone would want to do such a thing. He went so far as to intimate that it wasn't possible, that I was going to have drain flow problems, and that there was no way the dishwasher was going to be able to be hooked up. He completely didn't get it and he politely fought me on it. I had to explain things to him very slowly and it made me wish I'd called Ask This Old House to get Rich Trethewey to come sort it out. Finally he got it and it was as if a light bulb went on. So this installation is probably not for the faint of heart. It makes me think that I should forget this math stuff and become a plumber.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Progress Not Perfection

I just noticed that it's been a long time since I blogged. I've been pretty busy with school work. I have been plugging away at the kitchen though, small bits at a time. So here are some pictures:

Here is the finished end panel for the peninsula. I used a combination of drilling holes in the corners and threading the coping saw blade through the holes to cut the outlet. The far side is the cut side. I reclaimed the veneer off one of the cut pieces for that side by cutting as close as possible with the table saw and then sanding away the excess. I tried a couple other tactics for getting the veneer off, but they all damaged the veneer, so this is the one I went with. By far it was the easiest as well. I used titebond wood glue, a couple 1 inch wide scraps along the edges, and the band clamps that I bought for joining the counter tops. I glued it up, wiped off the excess with damp rag, and ended up letting it cure for a couple days because it took me that long to get back to it.

Here are the drawers installed under the sink. I think technically the larger drawer is supposed to be on the bottom, but to be honest I didn't notice that they were different sizes until I measured to center the handles. I think it works out better this way though because it means there is more room in the upper drawer. It does mean however that I'm going to have to make sure that the other drawers around the kitchen match so that there is uniformity. In this picture you can also see that the vertical part of the back splash has been installed.

Here's a picture of the inside of the top drawer under the sink. You can see that I cut out the back of the drawer in the middle to accommodate the plumbing under the sink. I ended up just using a hacksaw that I forgot I owned to cut down the sides from the top and then used a small drill bit to perforate the horizontal so that I could bend it with my bare hands. Then I used a metal file to smooth away the burr and some of the roughness. It's still not very smooth but it's not sharp enough to cut skin, and I plan to get some padded tape to fold over the cut edges. I also installed vertical dividers. I used a strip of the leftover end panel from the peninsula that still had the veneered edge attached. I drilled holes through the particle board bottom and used 2-1/2 inch cabinet screws from the bottom up and 1/2 inch cabinet screws through the metal drawer back. I wanted to make sure that the drawer could be opened and closed without the contents shifting and getting in the way of the plumbing.

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Never should have....

I hate to say it, but I never should have agreed to do the Cancer Walk on Sunday. Sure it's a charitable event, it's a good excuse to get out and take in some fresh air. I thought that it would give me an excuse to get in some non-renovation-related activity. But there's a certain level of risk one takes in committing to such an event. It creates an opportunity for Murphy's law. On Tuesday, my classmate Amanda commented on my sneezing and I assured her that it was just allergies. On Thursday I started to get the itchy ears and sore throat that indicated maybe she was right, maybe I really was coming down with something. Yesterday, I thought I could get ahead of this thing by remaining mostly horizontal all day, drinking lots of fluids and not doing anything strenuous. Today I'm sick. I have a box of tissues at my side, I'm breathing through my mouth, and my body feels like it's lost all lubrication in the joints and any temperature regulation it may once have been capable of. I'm not the only one, apparently my mother is sick too, and possibly my sister.

So what are the chances that I'll be "all better" by tomorrow? I've got a bottle of NyQuil with my name on it.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Plumbing Complete!

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