A Tale of Two Tables, part 1

It’s been a while! I’ve been in the garage, building stuff. What stuff, you ask? Tables! I decided that it would be cheaper (and certainly more fun) to build my own tables to spec than it would be to hunt around at Ikea and various secondhand shops for tables of not-quite-the-right-size. All you DIY people know what I mean.

Of course, the last time I did any woodwork was … never. So never let it be said that I lack ambition when it comes to building stuff.

But I found an amazing site full of furniture plans. Thank you, Ana White! Armed with a plan (yes, carpentry puns!) I headed off to Lowe’s. And then it snowed. Remember my lumber, languishing in the back of my car? Yes, that lumber. Anyway, after the great thaw, I went to work. With some pretty retro tools:

It may be old, but it still has a lot of life (and sparks) in it.

old school black and decker drill

Who could resist such a pretty saw?

retro handsaw with floral detail on the handle

These are my dad’s. I suspect they are older than I am. But they sure do work. And although I was handicapped by only having two C-clamps (oh, the humanity!), I made quick progress on Day 1:

Table legs!

table legs

Legs, meet stretchers:

table legs with stretchers

“Measuring” boards for the top:

putting on the tabletop

And by the end of the day, I had this sexy little thing:

a finished small table

It only wobbles a tiny bit (I forgot that the square only works when you actually pick it up and use it), but since this table will live outside on a gravel surface, a bit of rocking really doesn’t matter.

Stay tuned for the saga of the big beater table!

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Snow day!

I finally got my rear in gear and went to Lowe’s to get my lumber and assorted other necessaries for table making, and then … it snowed. So the back of my car looks like this:

fresh cut 2x4s

It’s too cold to be out in the garage all day without warm gloves, and gloves + powertools = nasty accident in my mind. But in the meantime, I’m knitting like mad (snow and ice is perfect knitting weather, truly) and getting inspired by all the winter scenery. Behold:

icy trellis

iron sunflower

icy rose

frozen rosemary

swirly grass

icisles

frozen grass

icy olive tree

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What do 40 pink flamingoes and a kangaroo hide have in common?

They were both hiding in my parents’ garage!

We spent a festive New Year’s weekend hauling boxes around and shoving stuff aside so that I’d be able to get The Critter down from the rafters and actually set it up in the proper place to begin pulping. The poor thing has been neglected for over three years, so here’s hoping it still works …

I can’t decide what I’m most excited about – getting set up in general, or the fact that the Critter is a weird size, so I have to get to build a table for it. Power tools! Hammering! The smell of sawdust! The possibility for mayhem and frustration …

Anyway, I figure some of you might be wondering why on earth my parents have 40 pink plastic flamingoes stashed in their attic. Well, they’re left over from ambushing family members on their 50th birthdays. Wake up, have your coffee, walk outside – GAH! There’s a flock of bright pink birds all over my lawn! Very amusing. Ten of the birds found a permanent home after my ornithologist uncle turned 50 and decided he liked a little color in his yard.

The kangaroo hide has an equally weird little story behind it. I was in Adelaide, SA, on spring break with my parents after my study abroad term. Dad needed a new belt, so we found a little leather and shoe shop – the kind that you can’t find in the US anymore. The owner was a bit frazzled – he was about to close, and he was late for a big dinner party, but he didn’t want to turn us away. So he handed my mom and me $50 and asked if we would please go buy him a bunch of fresh oysters while he helped Dad find the right belt. We did, and when we got back, I found a beautifully tanned and pared kangaroo skin, dyed with walnut and then crumpled. I had to buy it. Wouldn’t you?

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Thinking about beginnings

Knitted beginnings, that is. I found this list of cast-on techniques and immediately realized that I use the Long-Tail Cast-On almost exclusively. The only exception is when I’m making something with a wrist cuff, like fingerless mitts. Then I use the Italian Tubular Cast-On, simply because it is so awesome for making a stretchy 1×1 ribbed edge (if you’ve never tried it, take a look at this tutorial – you’ll be amazed).

So why the slavish devotion to the Long Tail? Well, it’s the first technique I learned – I think. It’s certainly the one my Mom taught me, but I learned to knit “for real” from my fourth grade teacher, along with the rest of my class, and I can’t imagine she picked the Long Tail over, say, Knitting On. Especially for kids! So there’s the undeniable fact that Long Tail is the most familiar to me. And by now, after 20 years of knitting (really?), habits are hard to break.

But now I’m curious – what have I been missing all these years? I think it’s time for some new beginnings.

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A frosty morning run calls for a hand-knit headband

I had never done a 5K fun run before today, and I certainly can’t think why! It was so fun, so low-key, and so … small! It was a simple affair put on by a family to raise money for their father’s cancer treatments. Registration was by donation, and the crowd was mostly family, friends and co-workers of the sick man’s son. But there were a few of us who didn’t know the family, and just wanted to run (the fundraising bit was a bonus). We made our own little knot around the breakfast bagels, and lo and behold – there was a  woman next to me in a blue feather-and-fan hat …

Excuse me, I said. Did you make your hat?

Why, yes! She glanced up and down at me. Her eyes narrowed and she smiled. Did you make your headband?

Knitters are everywhere!

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One sunny day in November

This gallery contains 16 photos.

A dry day? In November?!  Yes, it really happened.  So I grabbed my camera and went leaf-peeping. Which sounds vaguely dirty, I think. But rest assured, I was only interested in stalking the gorgeous fall color we got this year. … Continue reading

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Fun with Palette(s)

A few months ago I was lucky enough to participate in a group order of KnitPicks wonderful Palette yarn. It let me get a substantial sample of each color – enough to swatch with – without ordering over 100 balls of yarn (if you’d like to find a similar opportunity, check out the KnitPicks Lovers group on Ravelry).

Of course, having all these wonderful bits of color floating around on the dining room table was too much to resist. I simply had to sit down and play, combining mini-skeins until the poor dog came over and whined at me. Oh, right, real life obligations!

After a quick break to take the pup to the lake for a swim (in the rain – it’s definitely fall), I came back and whipped all that play into shape. Here are my results:

I’m sure there will be more of these to come, as we head deeper into the fall and the leaves start to change. But for now – it’s time to swatch!

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