Saturday, November 25, 2023

Office Party

As promised, pictures of my completed IKEA build from last Saturday! Here's the view from my office door, looking at the work area as opposed to the Zoom Background area I showed a few weeks ago.

Side note before we talk IKEA: the lighting! There is a ridiculous amount in this room. Three bulbs in the ceiling, two serious wall sconces, the matching table lamp, and now a second table lamp. The room is only 5.5' x 8.5' - you can see the corner of my IKEA standing desk on the right, to give you an idea of how small it really is - but I had hoped to sew in here and do other crafty things, so when we were renovating we had it majorly wired. And you know what? I really do use all these lights at different times. It was totally worth it.

The new addition is a Hemnes shelf unit - intended really for a bathroom but perfect for my office needs.

 

To the left of it I have a Hemnes bookcase (not pictured because you can only contort so much in a doorway.) I really wanted a second one for symmetry but it was too tall for the wall sconce I have no intention of taking down. I was sad about that, because the solid sides make it easier to hide clutter from my work area. 

As it turns out though, the open structure has its own perks. Specifically, access from the sides. I hadn't planned this but once the unit was in place I realized I could have a designated planner area and get my gel pens and markers off the desk entirely.

Bonus: I finally have a place to display the Group of Seven and David Milne prints I was gifted last year and love to look at. Probably I should get around to taking them out of their plastic wrap but in the meantime, they do a great job of inspiring me while hiding messy things I need to get at every so often. Because let's be honest. The two white bins I bought for this purpose were not enough for that job!

Another innovation I had with this makeover was my 'whiteboard'. A lot of writers will use a wall as planning space, sticking up Post-It notes to work out scenes and make sure their narrative arcs work well. I didn't have wall space for that when I was working in our front window, but in the office I have these two sconces... and in the basement, a long piece of leftover baseboard trim already primed white. 

 

It only took about half an hour to put them together with some bristolboard, washi tape, and blue and white scrapbooking string. No holes in the wall either. I just set the baseboard trim over the sconce plates and I was done. I'll probably start using it next week, when I dig into the second draft of my most recent project.

The desks are unstained rubberwood, sourced from Wayfair, and they are so great. The primary one is four feet wide, which feels generous in such a small space, and 18" deep. The one running under the window is just 16" deep, but it's five feet wide which allows me to have the table lamp plus loads of space for spreading out pages and notes when I'm reviewing a printed manuscript. I sure didn't have that luxury in the dining room, unless I took everything off my desk and shoved it onto the dining table.

I'm still not quite there with this office. I'd like to get rid of more cluttery bits from the boxes, for one thing, and streamline my art supplies, for another. But I'm enjoying the space and grateful for it.

Overseeing it all, and guarding the boxes with my notes and pages for other projects, is my wooden monkey:

He was a gift from my older brother, who died when I was a teenager - he was great at gifts and I still treasure the things he chose for me. I was probably eight or ten when he picked up this little guy. His curved hands and feet mean he can hang off things and it's fun to pose him!

Okay the sun is shining and it's time for us to get on with our days, so I will leave you with this picture of how cosy and cute my planner area looks at night.

Thanks again for spending this time with me and I'll see you next Saturday!



Saturday, November 18, 2023

Project day

It's Saturday and once again I am finding things while looking for something else. Specifically, my missing sock needles. 


This is the cuff of a fingerless mitt I was making from sock yarn scraps. And when I say scraps, let's just acknowledge that the whole project looks like it's *been* scrapped.

I do intend to get back to this because I've made two other pairs in this mitt design and I wear them a ton. But it's been so long since I worked on it, you better believe there was a huge sigh of relief when I saw my pattern notes tucked into the same bag. 

There was also a huge gasp when I realized I pilfered the second set of needles for socks when they still had a job to do:

I bet you're gasping too. I don't know what I was thinking! But I can tell you what I'm thinking now - the stitches seem to be holding all right, and I don't have any other sock needles handy to slip through them, and I had something else in mind for today. So I'm just going to leave them be and hope for the best.

About the 'something else'...

Every time I see somebody posting online about their makeover projects, I think of sunny Saturdays and pushing everything aside to tackle a mess and make a room beautiful again. With coffee and good music and possibly paint and/or a friend. I don't really drink coffee, but do you know what I mean? It's so appealing. And with the major office redo here, that's spilling into a whole-house extravaganza, I needed to make changes in my workspace storage.

Long story short: I shopped at IKEA again - this time for an open sided shelf from the Hemnes line. It's meant for a bathroom but too bad! It's gonna line up with my Hemnes bookshelf, which is now gonna be a linen closet, and pretend to be office decor. I'd show you the finished look but it's almost three and I haven't actually started assembly yet. Maybe next week. 

Right now I'm just excited that IKEA has changed the way you order online, such that I was able to make the purchase before midnight and pick up from a 24/7 locker system as early as three hours later. I woke up to a sunny day and a giant box in the hallway all ready to build, because Pete is a morning person and picked it up for me.

Meanwhile, I think the scrappy sock mitt will look cute when it's done, don't you? I like the way the colours are lining up.

Probably if I was smart I'd find a way to adapt my design for a full-on thumb, and then just keep knitting the top till I can do a nice angled tip. I'm content slipping them over a pair of gloves that would be inadequate on their own, but I still dream of waking to a day with time for tinkering in it. And I do love my stripes, don't I.

Okay I'd better go get assembling. Hope you have a fun day in progress - thanks for spending part of it with me! See you next week.




Saturday, November 11, 2023

Making adjustments

It's getting to be that magical cold-weather time of year where I live, and that means two things.


I get to wear my beautiful handspun twined mittens, and I get to feel guilty about the matching hat. Yay!

Or rather, ugh. I had such good intentions with this hat, and way too much confidence in my abilities to knit a garter band and pick up stitches for the rest. Not sure if you can see the problem in this photo, so perhaps we'll try another angle:


There is a LOT of ease on top. I think the handspun was just too heavy to flop properly, because the crown decreases are perfectly flat, a critical element I did get right.

Ignoring the fact that wearing this hat makes me look like the stem on a mushroom, I even did this elaborate trim feature:


I still really like this element, even though it's wasted on this hat. I look awful with it on, and it keeps sinking and shifting as I walk, too. It's way too big. If I had one of those gazelle necks I could tuck my long hair into it and stride out of the house looking like I have an attractive hat on. Sadly I was not so blessed. So I'm going to have to find a way to make the hat smaller. I see two routes to this destination.

Option A: tuck the excess inside the band, and stitch it down.

 


Option B: fold the excess over the band, and stitch it down.


And at this crossroads, I have stopped. I'm not sure which is better, and also, I need to dig out my leftover handspun so the stitches don't show. Otherwise I'll have to do decorative stitches that look like they were done on purpose, and that's another area where I'm more confident than adept, heh.

I do think it's worth it though, don't you? I mean this hat is WARM. The halo on it is incredible. The colours are beautiful. And, you know, I handspun this yarn and everything.

The good news is, we're doing a whole-house overhaul at the moment to accommodate home offices. I'm sure to find the leftover yarn in my travels, and when the work is done, I'll have a few more cosy nest options for actually doing the alterations. If I'm really careful and lucky, I'll be out in style in January. A girl can hope.

Another hope: that you are having a great weekend. Thanks for coming to see me, and let's do this again next Saturday!






Saturday, November 4, 2023

Office Talk

This week I reorganized my office, even to the point of moving out the velvet daybed so I could have an L-shaped desk to supplement my standing desk. Having just spent two days in there enjoying all that hard surface area for spreading out papers, my hips are expressing an interest in having the daybed back. But how I can I give up this perfect Zoom background?


Once I get seating sorted out, I'm sure this new design is the way to go. Among the items that stayed are this photograph, which I've displayed in my work space since my high school years when I found it in a charity shop.

I once used Google Images to find out where it was taken and noted it down, then put the paper away carefully so I'd always remember, and then forgot where the paper went. But I do know it's a cathedral town in England. I'd like to visit it someday in person but really, just this framed photo has always been an inspiration to me for some reason. I'm so glad somebody took the trouble to take it, frame it, and donate it rather than tossing it in a bin.

Other things I'm pleased to keep handy are this coaster from the London Underground Museum (a gift from myself), and jewellery stand from Anthropologie (a gift from a friend.) They're like monograms for my desk, reinforcing this tiny room as mine to work in.

 

Then there's my painted metal tray, dating back I am guessing to the 50s or maybe 60s?

These were very popular for a time and people maybe even served drinks on them, judging by the scratches. All I know is, the colours are great. I found it at an antique market for cheap and have always loved looking at it, but it's a challenge to display so it doesn't often get pride of place. At the moment, it's taking advantage of the seam in the standing desk. It's playing nicely there and not getting in the way at all so I'm going to leave it there a while.

I got this kitchen wall shelf at an antique market too, and painted it to match the walls when we first moved back after the renovation. Before that I'd painted it yellow, so this is much more sedate. Perfect for showcasing a shifting display of things that please me, like my collection of pocket-sized Filofax planners.

On the bottom shelf I have placed a napkin holder my mum once gave me (currently storing two packs of small size blank greeting cards) and a pair of mittens her mum once knit. Also, my Strunk and White! I refer to that thing with grammar-related questions ALL the time, when I can find it. Now that I've got it out front and centre again, the finding it part should not be an issue.

Okay I'd best be on my way if I'm going to get in a Saturday afternoon walk. Hope your weekend is going beautifully! I'll leave you with a closeup of these pretty roses, and I thank you again for spending a little time with me. See you next week, sameish time, same place.


Edited to add:

A friend reached out after reading this and suggested my mystery photo is of Durham Cathedral! And she's right, per photos I found of near-identical views. Now I want to go visit even more because I bet the tea shops nearby are fantastic.

Saturday, October 28, 2023

Halloween walk

It's been a while since I shared a taste of my neighbours' Halloween decorating finesse, so you might need to brace yourselves. Some of these are scary!

Starting small, here.

Inflatable ghosts: always a popular choice, and you can dress them up or down for scary as the need arises.

Skeletons and spiders are also thick on the ground, or rather, trees. Ambitious decorators often have them crawling all over their houses... I've spotted two now with skeletons trying to get in through the upstairs windows. Creepy!

But... is anything creepier than a clown? 

This guy stands about eight feet tall... and his eyes light up red at night. Between him and the tree skeleton this place is not exactly welcoming. Maybe that's the point?

Also not welcoming: the giant Scream inflatable brandishing a knife at anybody who dares approach the driveway. I took this from a safe distance, so as not to terrify.

Didn't even try to minimize the horror of this 10-foot inflatable. I know, I know, I could be showing you something that's 10 INCHES tall, after cutting out all the reference elements like car and house number. But trust me, this thing is heart-stopping, unless it's lost its air and is sprawled flat over the lawn, which is how it spends at least 12 hours of every day.

Okay if the others didn't scare you...

Like, there wasn't even any wind when I took this photograph.

(I kid. It was super blustery.)

We need a palate cleanser now so I'm gonna finish up our tour with my favourite.


It doesn't quite show here, but Skullface's mouth has some depth, enough to accommodate a large sleepy dog or perhaps a lady who's walked a long way and can't wait to get home to snuggle up on her sofa. I have never impersonated such a person or asked anyone to take a picture of me in this monster's mouth, but I think about it every. single. time.

Okay, the sun's shining here and I should get out into it. Hope you're getting out for something fun this weekend too! Thanks for joining me and I'll see you next week.




Saturday, October 21, 2023

Scraps

 I've been settling in nicely at Instagram the last few weeks, having found my way to a wonderful community of booklovers (come visit!) and I can't help noticing there is a LOT of overlap with knitting. And not because many of us indulge in both passions, either. After all, what is a To Be Read pile if not a Yarn Stash? and read books on a shelf are not unlike yarn scraps.


Of which I have many. Some people never reread books but keep them to fill their shelves as a record of where they've been, and I suppose you can do the same with yarn scraps. I know I recognize many of these yarns and remember the beautiful things I made with them. Still, you *can* reread a book. And you can use up yarn scraps too.


I could almost certainly cobble together a pair of Frankenstein-esque socks with what's lying around in my scrap box. Or embroider something, or even make a rug. Tie up a gift parcel. Braid long strips for drawstrings or tiebacks. Leave some outside strategically for our animal neighbours to use in their nests. And let's not forget the ol' loom. Weaving is the audiobook of the knitting world, in that it allows you to get through stashed yarn very quickly and frees you attack the next thing on the list.

 

Or I could just leave all these scraps in their protective cases in a box in a cabinet to come visit every so often, remembering the diehard knitter I indulged for all those years when I didn't the time or tranquility I needed to tackle a short story, let alone a full-length manuscript. One of which I hope to wrap up in the next few days (or even this weekend, cue the nail-biting)!!! I've only been working on this thing for 14 or 15 months... I am overdue a completed if creaky first draft at this point, don't you think?

 

And on that note, I will take my leave of you for another week, a bit abruptly, but only because I really, really need to wrap up this story.  Hope you have a great weekend and, as always, thank you for spending some time with me today. 

Okay, okay - one more scrap tray! These are the bigger leftovers, generous enough for sock cuffs or handknit pockets. If you have ideas or favourites, I'd love to hear 'em.






Saturday, October 14, 2023

Knitting love

This last week suddenly I felt hugely motivated to knit, not from pressure or because I like the feel of yarn in my hands but because the motion of knitting into a stitch and sliding it over the needles is so wonderful.

Which means I made a ton of progress on the sock I'd messed up all those years ago! Here we are at Chompy Sock, no less, that delightful stage following Heel Flap.


I re-stained the deck post caps last week too, and they look so clean and new now. Even whiter than the white stripe in this colourway.

Knitting with frogged yarn isn't so spectacular but I stuck with it and, since I'd added in the two stitches that should have been there in the first place, I hit unknit yarn before I got too far into the heel flap. The frogged section from the leg is really bumpy, isn't it.


The other big Yay was that I am really enjoying the needles I found in the bag where I'd stored this mistake sock while I made up my mind what to do with it. They're square metal double points from KnitPicks and when I first bought them to supplement my original and much-loved sets of Kollage square needles, which were somehow no longer available, I found my skin was reacting to the nickel finish. I kept them only to store live stitches when I needed my original needles for something else. Well, that allergy issue seems to have resolved, and now I can enjoy the super slick surface and sheer speed of knitting on them. 

 

The bad news: Knitpicks has changed over to doing square double points in wood only, which I've tried and didn't love, so I can't get more of these needles now that I like them.

The good news that washes right over the bad: Kollage needles are available online now and the needles, now produced in aluminum, even come in blue! Guess who's getting new double points for her Christmas stocking?

If you haven't tried square needles, they really are great. It's a subtle difference in grip with a big payout in reduced hand strain. I wouldn't make socks on anything else. However: you do have to go up a size owing to the lost circumference with the squared-off edges, so I use 2.5mm squares to sub in for 2.25mm round sock needles.


Okay that's enough from me for today... I hope you're enjoying a beautiful Saturday and once again, thank you so much for sharing your time with me. See you next week!




Saturday, October 7, 2023

Sweater weather

At last! The temperature around here has finally dropped enough to reach for a sweater before heading out the door. I know summer is a popular season for a lot of reasons but for me: it's all about autumn.


I've been such a snail with my knitting the last few years, not only in speed but in terms of finger agility (as in, sticky where it isn't zero). Still, I couldn't help noticing this particular project - not a sweater, it's another Hatcowl - is almost done.

You may recall me moaning about this thing a year ago - and likely on many other occasions - because I'd cast on with lace-tipped needles and they are SO STABBY. But I also loved the Viola-dyed yarn enough to persevere well into last spring. And it's paid off: I'm pretty close to doing the eyelets, which immediately precede another few rounds of ribbing. Which, by the way, will not number as many as the initial very deep ribbing section. YAY!


If I sit down and focus, I could have this thing ready to wear out on a walk next week. Which probably isn't necessary as it's not *that* cold yet, but still. A girl can dream, as I always remind myself when imagining the impossible.


No pictures to accompany this bit of exciting news, but our tiny home is, at last, on its foundation! Turns out putting even a lightweight shed on twenty feet of sand takes some extra intervention. Like, for example, helical piles that go down even deeper, with engineer-designed bracing at the top. Next week with luck we'll also get power, something that involves serious trench-digging by Pete and company before our electrician arrives. We won't have water for the foreseeable. However, we don't need to wait for that for the septic hookup, and we might even be able to harvest rainwater for non-potable uses, so it feels like progress.

Crossing my fingers I actually get out there to see it and take a bunch of pictures for you this fall... the actual building is quite plain, but the land it's on is gorgeous. As proof, here's one of the few images I've been offered that doesn't feature a tractor, taken from our cousins' driveway next door on balmy day in September:


I mean HONESTLY. Who wouldn't want that view every day? Admittedly it's theirs and not ours, but I gotta think there's another vantage point further in that's just as stunning.


Okay that's it for me. Random episodes of exhaustion are still pocketing my Covid recovery, but I'm feeling good enough right now to take a magical sweater-weather walk, and I've learned to grab those moments.


Hope you have a wonderful weekend (and a wonderful Thanksgiving if you're Canadian like me!) and I look forward to meeting up again next Saturday. As always, thanks so much for stopping by!



Saturday, September 30, 2023

Sock hop

Short Hug today my friends. After a brief recovery last Saturday, I spent the rest of the week with a rebound round of Covid. I'm only just clawing my way back to normal life again now, too late even for the good sunshine for taking pictures, yikes. However! during my brief hours of good health last weekend, I tackled a sock problem that's got to be six years old.

I don't know what happened with these. Normally I knit both socks in a pair at the same time, getting one through the cuff and then the other, then both to the heel flap, and so on. Knitting with this stripe, I got one sock complete to the point of a grafted toe with the ends run in, and the other as far a finished heel flap. Then I discovered I had cast on two few stitches right from the start, throwing off the entire heel math unless I fixed it. And fixing it would either mean adding two stitches and living with a tight leg, or ripping out and starting over.

I knew the harder option was the answer, but... UGH. Hence the six years. But in the euphoria of recovering from Covid, I wasn't in the mood for half measures, so I pulled out all those stitches. Okay, I admit it: not all. I couldn't face redoing the ribbing, so I guess that part of the sock might feel a bit snugger.

All the rest is what I managed to get done as my symptoms returned and then felled me completely. But hey, I'll take it!

Knitting with frogged yarn is kind of sad... the stitches are so gummed up compared to what you get with unknit stuff.


I'm pretty sure it will all come out in the wash... or most of it anyway.

The main thing is, I'm working through my knitting backlog, while still in time to produce a single pair of Christmas socks. No pressure, amiright?

Hope you've had a great week, with lots of cheery outside time! See you next Saturday, maybe even for a celebration of Something Finished. Meanwhile, enjoy your weekend, and thanks for making me a part of it by stopping by.