Friday, September 9, 2016

Grafting toes and blocking socks

It's Friday, and since it's nice to have a sense of completion at the end of the week I thought it would be nice to share pictures of a finished pair of socks.  Well, almost finished.

Since I am me - which is to say, Always Obsessing About Something - I decided to share my current angst as well, which is:

what on earth am I going to to about a washer and dryer for the new house?

Omigosh could I be more boring, especially since I am pretty sure I wrote about this issue the first time I looked into the problem many months ago.  Let's have another look at the socks, shall we?

I can't believe how closely the stripes on these guys match up.  There must be - what, four inches of overlap between one sock finishing the green stripe, and the other starting the blue?

Love when that happens.

So, here's my laundry dilemma.  I haven't had to buy a new washer in, I don't know, ten years?  Maybe fifteen.  And the last ones I chose were not expensive.  I'm not fussy about appliances - I don't need something that looks pretty, or has a lot of extra features, or is in any way the latest thing that you can run a quartz countertop over.  When it comes to a washer I just want clean clothes in the least possible amount of time, and I want the machine to work every time I turn it on, because I always seem to be stuck doing a ton of urgent laundry and there don't seem to be any laundromats near the house or the condo.

Speaking of the condo - when we got this place I expected to have to replace the washer and dryer that came with it straightaway, because they were so old and ratty looking and mismatched and not appealing for a prospective tenant or buyer.  But I quickly discovered they are WAY better than the Whirlpool set I had at home.  The washer, a Kenmore at least ten years old, zips through a load in about 15 minutes and then does a quick but effective rinse, and the dryer has a light inside and a super accessible lint trap.  I feel love and gratitude for these qualities every single time I use them, and I would move them home if I thought they'd survive the journey.  I might try, anyway.

But I might not, because the washer has never leaked.  This feature can't be valued highly enough for the prospective landlord of a rental condo, even if it is just on the second floor over a grocery store that doesn't have hardwood floors to ruin.

Our laundry room at the house on the other hand - that's in the basement, and it will have a tile floor with a drain in it, along with a sump pump.  All of this is lucky because what I discovered on my first attempt at choosing a new washer is still true.  The top rated readily-available brand for washers today has been known to leak, sometimes more than a little, at random intervals.

And you know what else I've learned about modern washers? They are all about water efficiency to the point of not always using enough to get clothes clean, and needing as much as an hour and fifteen minutes to get through one load.  Bonus: often, there are problems with a moldy smell.

And they aren't built to last any more, either.  Some brands have crazy statistics for repairs and replacement, such that you might well find yourself buying something new after three years of frequent repairs.  I can't even process what that ends up costing, because I am too busy being a deer in the headlights over how not being able to do laundry at home would destroy my schedule.  It's already as tight as it can be.

Plus...we are knitters, so I know you know what I'm worried about.  Most modern top-loaders don't have agitators any more, and they are so water-efficient they don't always even get the whole load wet (apparently people get around this by washing small loads with the highest water level possible, or by adding water manually).

How on earth are you expected to felt wool in a machine like that?

Or in a front loader, where you can't check the fabric's progress??  UGH who cares about steam clean features when there are knits to felt.

Time for more sock.

Grafting toes is such an orderly process.  You have your darning needle, and you have a freshly cut 9" tail descending from a pair of needles, and you go back and forth weaving the opening shut.

(you don't need a Churchmouse Yarns and Teas tin full of stitch markers.  that's just where I keep my darning needles, for safety.)

SO much easier than choosing a washer.

So much tidier than keeping all the features and known issues straight.

The way I see it, the solution for this situation can be narrowed down to three options.

1/ I could buy a top load washer from Huebsch (that's Speed Queen to you folks in the United States, owing to I think a patent dispute.)  Those things are built like tanks, and get through a wash in around thirty minutes, and don't leak.  Word is, they don't always clean as well as front-loaders... but I am not washing out mud, most days anyway, and a top loader with an agitator has always worked great for me.  They are supposed to last about 20 years for somebody who washes as much stuff as I do.  They have a smaller capacity than most new machines, but OH, what a heartbreak... not.  Because I can do two small loads in less time than it would take to do one large one in a fancier machine.  Excuse me for not needing a tissue to dry my tears as I take my giant blankets to the drycleaner instead of washing them myself.  The matching dryer is not super well reviewed for function or reliability but if I'm going with a very basic looking white top loading machine, I can't make the situation much less attractive than with a non-matching dryer.

2/ I could buy a gorgeous LG front-loader, which has a huge capacity and is very fancy and might not leak (yeah, this is the brand that gets leak-related complaints) WITH the new LG 'Sidekick' pedestal that would let me do smaller loads in a top-load form.  The Sidekick has a very small capacity for almost the same price as the bigger machine which makes it a crazy purchase... but you know what?  Delicates and felting and washing just a few pairs of socks when I want.  Plus a backup washer, when the big one is out of commission and needing motherboard repairs.  Crazy like a fox, is what I say.

3/ I could buy a washboard, or maybe something a little fancier than that...

... and with the thousands of dollars I save in purchase expenses, downtime for broken machines, repair and replacement of floors and machines, and overall stress, I could pay for catered meals so I have time for scrubbing and wringing.  Heck, a system like that might even replace the need for the exercise equipment I wanted to sneak into the laundry room, and may not have space for.

Pete's feedback to that third option was, "You're really not well, are you" - but think about it.

If we're going to go past knitting to the point of spinning our own yarns and weaving our own fabrics, then on to buying the fleece from a sheep to process ourselves, or - we all know or have heard of somebody who's done this or at least considered it seriously - buy a farm to raise sheep on personally... where do you draw the line?  Are we really going to sneer at a pair of rocks and the cascading icewater of a nearby creek?

I sure wouldn't.

Or I could utter the two magic words: laundry service.

Just for the tough stuff.  When it comes to cleaning delicates and silks, and blocking socks and other handknits, all you really need is a bowl of water, some Soak, and a towel to blot out the excess water.

Plenty of time left over to run in a lot of yarn tails.


(here's my thought: have a great weekend and I'll see you Monday!)


Su said...

Ok, I shall say this only once! You can felt perfectly well in a front loader, I do all the time. It's extremely compliceated though, so please pay attention.

1. Open machine door and throw in item (s) to be felted plus maybe a towel or a pair of jeans.

2. Select a 40 degree wash and put washing powder into the drawer.

3. Switch machine on.

4. Walk away. Have a cup of tea, do some knitting, whatever floats your boat.

5. When cycle is finished, remove item and dry.

Now, in all actuality you may need to repeat the above steps, but I have NEVER had anything felt too much. A front loader is a different beast to a top loader but you can felt in one.

Mary Keenan said...

Thanks for this Su! It's true - with an agitator, things can easily felt too much and you have to check them regularly. I hadn't considered that a top loader would be easier on the yarn so it doesn't matter that you can't just open the door mid-cycle :^)

Beth said...

To get as close as possible to your miracle Kenmore in the condo, go with the Speed Queen/Fancy Alternative Canadian Name. I've had my SQ top loader for five years and love it to pieces. It works just like I expect a washer to work, and with no fiddling around or leaking.

Mary Keenan said...

Beth, that is exactly what Pete and I decided to do about an hour before I saw your comment ;^) Thank you so much for the validation!

I was up SO late last night reading reviews... in the end I realized the lukewarm reviews of both the washer and dryer from Speed Queen were coming from Consumer Reports, whose remarks I always take with a boulder of salt. It was amusing to see that where their articles make negative remarks about their testing efforts with Speed Queen, the comments section is jam packed with five-star reviews from actual longtime users.

I am pretty sure the Speed Queen set will cost about half as much again as the LG set I considered, but since I'd be replacing the LG set in seven years if I'm lucky, we're still ahead of the game. I'll do Speed Queen for the condo too if the current ones ever fail.

One more decision down, 18 or so to go!