Friday, June 18, 2010

Home Improvements

I live in a house that was built in the mid 80's. I am the second owner of the house. The first owners ad the house built and it's been interesting finding out all the weird choices they made during that process. The house is well designed with a large kitchen and master suite. It has a walk-out finished basement with three rooms, a utility room and two others, one was called the exercise room and the largest was used for a business they had. It seemed odd to me that there was no bath on that level. I know that if I had planned an exercise room, I'd have a bath close to it, one with at least a stall shower in it. But no, you have to go up two floors to get to a shower and one to get to a sink. They had extra heavy duty wiring run throughout the house. In fact, it's so heavy duty that the quick connects you find on sockets and wall switches can't be used because the wire won't fit. I do a little electrical work in my house, like changing wall switches, sockets and light fixtures. I've even changed circuit breakers in the main box. But then my dad trained as an electrician and taught me how to do those things. The master bath was finished very modestly. The bath is huge, at least 12' by 15'. But it only has a toilet and a combo tub /shower. The sink is in a separate area with a closet, a small dressing area. Over the years I've had it, since 1998, I've replaced the roof, some of the plumbing, furnace, water heater and air conditioner. Now I'm replacing all the windows and redoing the landscaping. I can see how the economy is still not that great. I use a website called Service Magic to find contractors for the larger jobs around the house. Within 15 min of finishing the request for contractors to give me an estimate, they were calling. So now I am scheduling people to come to the house and give me estimates. And I need to clean up.

On the knitting front, I couldn't resist casting on for something new. I casted on for the June KAL in the Icelandic lace Yahoo group. It's called the Lacy shawl by Rowan. The chart is horrible. It was unreadable in the original published form. One member, De-De, redid the chart, finding there was a 14 stitch repeat in the pattern. The chart did not address the end of the shawl, just stating to keep decreasing until there are 5 stitches left where you switch to stockinette stitch and keep decreasing to 3 stitches for the bind off, basically 4 rows of stockinette to finish. Plus it's done in Rowan's Kid Silk Haze, a fluffy mohair, that is horrible to frog. However, it does hold a stitch, so if you have some slide off the needle, you can easily get them back on without any laddering. I chose a color called Majestic. It's a grayed pale lilac that should go well with my wardrobe. It's knit as a top down single triangle, so I had 268 stitches to cast on a 6.0 mm (US 10) needle. I used a cable cast on because 1) it's very stretchy and 2) it doesn't require me to figure out how long a tail is needed. I just need to leave some tail, make a slip knot on the needle, then go. I don't have to rip it out because I didn't leave enough of a tail. I use the cable cast on when I need a stretchy cast on, like cuff down socks, and where I have a lot of stitches to cast on. It's very stable and easy to do. It's a good one to add to your repertoire. As for my challenge top, I did work on it and I've gotten all the armhole shaping done. It's down to below 100 stitches so it will move along quickly. And I shouldn't have to do any edging unless I want to since it's in moss stitch.

I think I glossed over something in my last post that's really important. That is a gauge swatch. I ALWAYS do a gauge swatch. It was instilled in me by my mother who taught me to knit at a young age. She always made gauge with the suggested size needles, even with a substitute yarn. But she always checked and so do I. It's especially important if you are substituting yarns. I also use a lot of yarns that are leftovers from knitting mills. These yarns are oiled for machine knitting but I hand knit with them. I need to remove the oil and let the yarn bloom before I can tell how it will look in the final garment. You also need to see the drape of the yarn at the suggested gauge. It might be too drapey or stiff for your liking. You then may want to rethink the project, change the yarn, change the pattern or change both. A good gauge swatch can help in so many ways. I used to do a 20 stitch gauge swatch because I never used to do anything other than a sport or worsted weight yarn. They were always between 4 and 5 inches, enough stitches to measure accurately. Now I make sure I have 2 pattern repeats at a minimum, unless it's a huge repeat, 30 stitches or more, or 4 inches based on the reported gauge on the label from the manufacturer. Then I add at least 6 more stitches to have an edge of 3 garter stitches and a field of 4" in whatever the gauge pattern states. I mean if the pattern gauge is in a lace pattern like feather and fan, you should use feather and fan for the swatch. If it's a 2 by 2 right cross over cable on a reverse stockinette field with 10 stitches between cables, then you use as many cables with 10 stitches in between as allowed by the number of stitches. If there is no pattern stated for the gauge, the default is stockinette stitch. Remember, ding a gauge swatch can save much frustration, many disasters, and trips to the frog pond. Until next time, Bye.

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