Tag Archives: home improvement

Weeding and wheeling

Oh, it’s past mid-summer, or is this mid-summer now…?

My old computer finally shat the bed, the new one took nearly a month to arrive, I’m still struggling with transferring files and software and the like, we were on vacation, the garden and yard are nuts, I finally finished a few little house things, and less screen time has been good.

Those great big balls of llama (maybe alpaca?) I flashed last fall are now yarn.

I was aiming for a rustic spin, intentionally a bit thick and thin, but overall bulky weight – I was aware that I began spinning thinner and thinner, and the more aware that I was about doing it, the more I thought I was intentionally bulking back up…

But in the end, the last few skeins were more sport to worsted…

But it doesn’t matter – I plan to knit a throw blanket and will alternate the skeins to even out the weights a bit. There’s a bit under 2,000 yards and I had planned to be able to knit on US 11 or so needles, but my “bulky” spins often work best on 9s, so we’ll see – hopefully it’s enough yarn to make something the length of toes to tits and wide enough to tuck the sides underneath for encapsulation. I love the warmth and squishiness of garter stitch like this blanket (that is slightly too narrow at times and I flirt with the idea of adding another stripe lengthwise, but instead I’ll just knit a whole new blanket or more…) but I’ll get more size out of stockinette, so I’m pretty sure I’ll just do up something ultra easy and in the round like this baby blanket again. Though I’m still tempted to add in some waves or do a modular block thing, but the clock is ticking, and I’ll need to knit this outside because it’s full of veg still – and the blanket itself will be for sunny winter day porch lounging… at least that’s the plan.

It’s been hot as balls and humid as a piehole, so my spinning has ceased for the moment – I’m down to a reasonable amount of fiber too (except for that shorn-too-short alpaca) so I want to be a bit more organized for my next spins – I’ve already grouped a few things together, but I’d like to revisit what I thought would be sweater vs. scarf/shawl amounts since I don’t seem to be finishing a single sweater…

My knitting mojo has just been off – part of that is from garden weary and damaged hands and the joint/tendon pain and swelling I seem to get every time it’s hot and humid now, and part is I want to finish some things before moving on, but I just need to put in a lot more hours of knitting and several thousands stitches to finish…

But part of that is I really just want to knit some socks – so I started another pair. It’s my last ball of my preferred yarn – everything else in the stash is too thin, so I’ll knit that stuff up doubled or maybe one day suck it up and knit it on US 0s, and I really don’t need socks (maybe they’ll end up being a gift?) but fuck it, if that’s what I want to knit to keep my fingers happy, so be it.

(Incidentally I got an email that this yarn was on sale again, but by the time I went to get it, it was all sold out, so I still haven’t bought any yarn for I don’t know how long…?) Well, that isn’t quite true, I’ve thrifted a little bit lately, but that doesn’t count.

The garden is a demanding, but tasty bitch. I need to jot up notes for next year, but the nutshell is Squash Vine Borer is hitting now, but we’ve already had a decent crop of zukes – I’m going to attempt some surgery and bury the vines today, but frankly, I’ve had my fill of the stuff for the year, though N hasn’t. The high humidity and frequent splashy rains brought in the blights the last week or so, but we’ve gotten about 50 pounds of tomatoes so far, and there’s another round ready by week’s end, so I hope I can keep things going, but at the least, we’ve got a decent amount to finish putting up. Three batches of jalapeno salsa and one of crushed toms was canned yesterday. The jalapeno plants were all started from seed, looked like utter shit for several weeks after I put them out and they were devoured by slugs? but then perhaps they were all the stronger for it and grew into these gorgeous, lusty plants. And the blueberries are coming in very well (the blackberries are very sour though, and the gooseberry was less productive this year).

And the closets are all finally done – hot, cramped, messy work I put off for a bit – all needed to be primed and primed and primed, caulked, trimmed out, some needed some shelves, and all needed many coats of paint.

Large projects that need to eventually be addressed are: installing central air, taking down trees, fixing/removing retaining wall, fencing, removing and re-installing attic insulation, some tweaks to the well equipment/set-up, and some other things I’m blanking on at the moment…

Small projects include: repair and painting around doors, scrubbing the siding; patching (painting?) some stucco, replacing some interior doors (maybe, if we can find vintage matches), improving the area underneath the deck, replacing the storm doors, of course more and more landscaping, and more things I’m blanking on…

And a medium project – sometimes large and overwhelming, sometimes a small, chip away at deal, is continuing to purge my shit. I have yet to come to any conclusions or at least stalemates on my art/crafting/collecting issues, but I’m slowing letting go of things, as well as still selling some of my vintage shit. I’ve a collection of old photos I might start to cull for cash, but it’s the only collection that fits neatly inside of a few small boxes, so it doesn’t much count…

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Hit the deck!

We finally did something for the house that wasn’t just a repair… scratch that, it was a repair/replacement, but less necessary than a boiler, or sewer, or toilet, or everything else… but it’s something we can enjoy (not that a sewer isn’t enjoyable when needed). The house finally has a balcony/deck on the back instead of a ridiculous set of rickety stairs.

From this:

Happening with holes… #construction #yard #ohtherocco #building #outdoorliving

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To this:

And yes, no stairs now – we hotly debated the feature – but maybe they’ll come later if we [I] really can’t live without them. We do have yard access through the ground level/basement, and it is nice to not have mud tracked on the deck and not worry about the dog getting loose (fingers crossed, he’s a jumper). So it is very much an extension of our living and dining space (right off the kitchen). I’ve lost the view of the back yard from one of the office windows, but I can still see the garden out of the other, and otherwise it’s just the treetops – I’m cool with that. It stretches the length of the house, but only comes out 10 feet, so we barely lost yard space, and instead gained a good shady spot underneath where the hammock will be.

And this spring has been so wet, that I wouldn’t have been sitting out in the yard anyway, so it’s perfect timing…

The whole thing was entirely done by others – that’s a first for us too – there was going to be too much engineering/working at high-ish height/expertise beyond our ability for us to tackle it ourselves – and that was a nice change – sign some papers, permits, payments and in a couple of weeks it’s done. (Well, not 100% done as we’ve got to seal/stain/something TBD it in a few months.) But even if we had buckets of money, I think I’d still prefer to do the work we can do to houses ourselves – at least while my limbs work enough.

There’s been a bit of a shitstorm going on as well – some electrical problems, air-conditioning problems, family matters, work, and quite literally with the dog – he got massively ill and had to be hospitalized a couple of times last week – we still don’t know the whys, but the hows are slowly getting better – gave us a massive scare.

So we’re all enjoying the moments when we can – thankfully it’s been cool and dry lately (when it’s not raining…).

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Pants!*

Last Saturday was a rainy day – an entire day of persistent rain – not spitty, not a brief but dramatic downpour, not a start and stop kinda thing that tricks you into getting to work outdoors and then makes you pack it in just as you’ve started.

It was perfect timing – the garden was planted enough and I was tired of yard work and house work, and paint doesn’t dry well when it’s damp outside and I can’t open the windows to let out the fumes, right?

So I decided to fire up the sewing thing again in preparation for finally sewing a few simple summer garments this year.

But I forgot that all of the shit from the basement utility room waiting to be painted was piled up in front of my serger…

(The serger is way in the back behind the rooster towel – but luckily it’s pretty light, so it was easier to move it rather than the stuff.)

I thought I’d whip up a pair of pajama (pyjama?) pants.

In my youth, I’d made at least a half dozen or so pairs of jams-like shorts, so I figured muscle memory and deep brain reserves would take over and I’d end up with something at least functional, if not decent.

I sort of need pj pants too – my favorite couple of pairs from Ageing Army are getting a bit ragged, and I was thinking I’d rather sew a new pair than to fix the blown-out waistband on this one – amazingly the elastic is still fine though.

I didn’t have a pattern, but figured I’d trace my favorite pair that are loose but not too baggy with a perfect rise that isn’t too high or low. But then I discovered their construction is a bit odd – likely it was cut from the bottom of the pile at the sweatshop and had gotten a bit twisted, but the twist made them fit great, but made a quick pattern draft not.

So I grabbed an old silk pair that had also seen better days. (Around the turn of the last century I scored several sets of fancy silk PJs for a song at a fell-off-a-truck kind of store in my old city – they’ve all just about gone tits up now, but the tops are still largely okay since I don’t wear them as a set often, so I’ll likely sew those into something else… eventually.

I laid them out (yeah, I had to take them off first) on freezer paper to trace. I was a little dubious that the front and back crotch curves ended up a bit too similar, but I couldn’t figure out how go rogue enough to modify them.

I had some thick and soft flannel I bought a couple of years ago on impulse – it was the last of the bolt and on sale, so I think the piece was just under 2 yards and $3 – something like that – and I was planning on dyeing it and using it as a wearable (or failable) muslin.

I couldn’t remember if I’d traced it with enough of a seem allowance, or too much – I was going to mostly serge them, so I didn’t need too much. But then it was too much, and I took in the sides several times (and should have done so several more).

And I don’t really know how to use my serger yet – at least doing anything other than straightish lines – too much of a curve and I kept slicing the crotch.

I worked and worked on trying to make the fit better and the crotch correctly curved, and then stopped – I’d blown a few hours by then and PJ pants shouldn’t take more than an hour.

They fit enough and stay up, and add 75 pounds and shorten my legs to stumps and makes me into a blinding squat clown gnome stompy troll.

I was planning on leaving the bottoms un-hemmed and kept in their rough, selvage-edge state, but of course they didn’t end up quite lined up, so I had to hem them even though they were a bit shorter than I’d like already…

But I oiled up and played a bit with my zigzag machine that hasn’t sewn many miles (by me) yet for the finishing, and that was a bit of fun and should make my eventual other simple garments a little more functional (I’d like to eventually venture into some knits, but I don’t have much hope for success).

(These old socks are are also destined to become knitted washcloths after another season or two of wear.)

So in the end, are they functional? Yes.

Are they comfortable? Sort of – soft and warm, but they’re so wide they bunched up to short ruffly chicken thigh bloomer height by morning.

Are they ugly? Hell yes, but not worth the effort or the $3 or so to dye them.

Will I make another pair with the lessons learned from this? Maybe, but I’ll probably get a legitimate pattern first, and I won’t need more for another couple, three years or so.

Did I repair the black plaid ones seen above so I wouldn’t have to wear these too often? Yes.

If I ever get around to widening my patchwork flannel duvet cover will they become part of it? Probably.

And did I finally get some legitimate work done last weekend? Yes, the basement utility room got its fresh paint on Sunday.

And the freshly dyed rug.

And I can be safe in knowing I can lie on it and be camouflaged in my new fat gnome pants.

*UK variation.

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Maymeanderings

I’ve got a few posts about small side projects in the hopper, things that I was futzing around with before the bathroom project hit, and now the garden and yard have hit, and hit hard, and once again my wrist isn’t happy and the projects still have yet to be photographed and/or cleared of their winter cobwebs and/or condemned to life or death…

My brain still has some cobwebs though – I’ve hit the anniversary of shit hitting the fan last year and I can’t say I’ve quite come out the other side yet – I still don’t know what I want for a career again and/or the right (or right enough) work for me – I know more about what I like and don’t, but those are just luxuries and I don’t get to be choosy.

My meantime work is renewed for another term though so at least I’m keeping afloat.

But afloat is also adrift, but I can’t go down that hole just now…

I’ve had a dumb week of former employer/COBRA/health insurance/fuck-ups and appointments cancelled and re-scheduled woes – things that take up time – time I thought I would have a bit of again now that the plumber isn’t here all day on my day off every week.

*****

N and the dog brought home some glorious morels from their dawn walk the other day.

I was over the moon – hillbilly gold. I miss my childhood home and land,  but not the people, or the area in general, or the state mostly as a whole, but these make me a tiny bit homesick (and they’re the only thing I saute in butter). We threw their soaking liquid in the yard hoping a stray spore or two might take hold.

Oh yeah… #morel #fungusamongus #morelmushrooms #mushrooms

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(If only I could find a Paw Paw patch here too…)

My winter/early spring online used clothing sales did pretty well – thankfully I don’t usually unravel my thrift sweaters until I’ve got a project about to hit the needles, so I can sell off the excess ones that are still in decent shape – and I don’t love unraveling the thin cashmeres anyway. What’s left of the vintage wool clothes and whatnot should fit in just one tub for the fall when I’ll try to sell it again or just re-donate. Up next is more random shit – vintage dishes mostly – things that don’t do so well, but I just can’t give away without trying…

But I have half a closet free in my studio/sewing room now, and it’s the first visible progress in a bit – much of my organizing and purging is invisible – trashing the dried-out paints in a box of paints still leaves you with a box of paints, only all usable and at the ready now…

I’ve got to do some repairs and lots of painting to do in the utility room in the basement next – just the walls though, not the cabinets yet – but hopefully that should take no more than 3 days.

And I’ve got a quick gift knit on the needles to revive my tiling-sore fingers and remind my wrist what its place ought to be.

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Flushed

The bathroom is finally [almost but basically] done.

I was going to wait until the last of the touch-up paint was dry, the rest of the pictures re-hung, the little vintage medical cabinet back in its spot, and new rug and towels procured, but then I saw the missing threshold and knew how long I can take with those, and I don’t have immediate plans for the new built-in cabinet, so enough already.

This is what we started with:

What you don’t see is the three broken light fixtures, a broken fan, a broken window, some broken plumbing, the big stain in the floor by the toilet, and the well-worn acrylic tub and surround.

What we did for the meantime (that was supposed to last 3-5 years) was to fix the window, the electrical (including the light above the sink), replace the rusty triptych medicine cabinet that bisected your face, and paint everything – especially the floor. And we thought we fixed the leaking toilet.

But the toilet was still very sloooowly leaking, and eventually we couldn’t ignore that we were finally stepping on a spongy oogy spot – the leak had spread in the subfloor a couple of feet.

So we committed to fix the whole damn thing ahead of schedule.

And I went a little nuts over the whole thing – not good nuts – just frustrated and confused and decisive and indecisive and then frustrated again and again. I don’t know what went wrong – I can usually bang this shit out – there were too many options but not the options I wanted. And then everything was more expensive than I wanted to pay, everything I’d picked out went discontinued or out of stock in a matter of days, I couldn’t find professional help where I needed it, and then the sewer pipe went bad too, and then I (we) changed my mind over and over again…

This shit woke me up in the middle of the night and it is absolutely something that shouldn’t do that.

But then I got what we needed and the plumber was able to book us for 5, yes 5 weeks in a row….

His first visit for the bath was the longest, and I was whirling in the throes of reno anxiety- we’d removed all of the fixtures and demoed the floor which is fun and rewarding (thank you for dealing with the toilet N since that isn’t fun) but then all of the worst is yet to come so it is a false reward, it’s the ribbon for participation without achievement. The first day of the plumber was also the first spring-feeling days and the leaves had yet to come out. Our new tub sat in the yard for hours (as did some copper pipes) and I equally fantasized about the bodies that could fit in its box and was amused that we live someplace “safe” enough that copper can lie about unsupervised…

But afterwards the real work began.

I’d researched some of the new waterproof wall systems and was planning to use one of them, but to save money in the end, we used backerboard and a paint-on membrane. By then the membrane fumes and the project crazy converged and I think I vocalized a few of the redrums shouting on repeat in my brain.

But once the bath tiles were up, I cooled down to a workable, only slightly unhinged, state.

The wall color choice was a bit of an issue – I wanted to repeat one we already had in the house, and we loved the kitchen’s mint, and online polling voted overwhelmingly for the mint, but it was just too intense (as was the yellow).

(I don’t wear make-up and the two of us have yellows and greens in our skintones, so I wasn’t worried about looking in the mirror in a green room.)

But we fairly easily agreed the dusty/dirty “champagne glee” pink would be the best – and we’re happy with it.

And then it was time for floor tile – I’ve used a similar one to this before, and our half bath has a mosaic pattern too.

I knew I needed to spend the time to dry fit it to make sure that the pattern was right and to make some of the cuts beforehand.

N numbered the tiles and made a handy chart for me to use – it was foolproof.

I thought the layout was perfect – N found a flipped tile, and we didn’t see any manufacturing flaws.

But there was one.

And we didn’t spot it until it was grouted.

But it was barely an issue and now I can’t believe we were willing to put up with the almond plastic bathroom for another couple of years – that old bath had some sort of stockholm hold over me…

The elements are both a bit more vintage than the ’50s, and contemporary – but it isn’t out of place with the rest of the little house.

And the tile feels so nice on my feet…

And the shower is roomier and brighter, and the tub worth taking a lingering bath – thankfully we got it in springtime when the well is full.

(And yes, we really need that threshold).

 

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Still in the bathroom

Another day, another day without plumbing…

(And of course I’ve got to pee – I thought this plumbing visit was going to be just a couple of hours, but it’s another all-day affair).

The bathroom saga is finally well underway, and long, and tiresome, and not yet done…

Sometimes I think I wouldn’t mind having a cabin way off the grid and without most plumbing. You’d be prepared for it, and most of the time the weather would be warm enough for an alfresco splash down, and composting toilets aren’t that bad if not shared by too many. But not having a fully functional bath/shower in your everyday home sets my nose out of joint. I’m one who must shower every morning to wake up, open my sinuses, de-creak my body and to get clean at an even rate. For most of the four years I worked from home, I tried every variation of less-often hair-washing, no-‘poo, some ‘poo, conditioner without ‘poo, cooler water, etc., etc., but in the end, I could never get used to feeling unevenly clean.

So today I’ve had the last shower I’ll get for the next week (hopefully), or two (likely).

We de-almonded the room first with joy and abandon I later regretted (from pain, not fondness), repaired the rotten subfloor – opening it up brought forth such an intense stench – thankfully like a rich, deeply composted forest floor rather than an excrement-soaked one, but mildly gag-inducing just the same, and after the plumber puts in the new tub, we’ll be tits deep in the most difficult tiling job I’ve done. I’m sorta kinda looking forward to doing the floor – hex tile is easy to work with – but the shower walls have got to line up, and straight lines aren’t in my playbook.

The paint ended up being the dull pink “champagne glee” to be exact, and yes, the name partially sold me on the color the first time around. We loved the mint, it is perfect in the kitchen, but it was too intense (as was the yellow) in this small dark room.

*****

It is now a week later and I’ve got the sink bath down to an art as well as a science, and neither of us smells too much, though maybe we’re nose blind.

And yes, the plumber is here again!

But I won’t blather on about my bladder again.

Tits deep in tiling… #tiling #bathroom #subwaytile #iwannabeinthistubnow

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The tub/shower is tiled and grouted and has fixtures – the grout is still curing though, so no shower for a few more days…

There is wonkiness of lines, of course, but less than I’d feared – the ceiling is nearly 2 inches higher on the one side than the other, so it is what it is.

Next up more wall repair and painting – not in love with the color yet – it’s leaning a bit beige (NO NO NO!!!!) but not enough is on yet to tell.

This weekend will be for tiling the floor.

Hopefully my fingers will be healed in time…

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Addendum to the end of March…

I’m still waiting for the tiles to come in – I got the call that they came in, but when I went to pick them up, they had cancelled the order instead…

Not sure what happened there, but hopefully there’s still a bit of a time buffer…

Which is good because I can’t decide on the paint color.

This was the “temporary” fix – grey and pink – but the grey is much too pale for the soon to be mostly white with a bit o’black (bye bye almond!) tile and fixtures.

The three colors in the top pic are already in the house – I like repeating things for some degree of continuity – but these are all love it or hate it kind of colors.

Well, every color is really I guess…

The mint is in the kitchen.

It was our first, first choice, but the bath is pretty dim, so I’m afraid of it falling a bit dull – it didn’t work when we tried it with the almond fixtures.

The yellow is in the living room.

It’s been my current leaning-to color.

And the dull pink is in the guest room (doesn’t photo well, but it’s pink enough to not be band-aid, but it’s on the earthier side).

This was our choice for a good bit of time, partly because it’s already in there a bit and I could keep the curtain.

Which is another choice…

There’s just the right amount left of this vintage fabric that could work if the tree-like things were on their sides instead of upright – that might drive me nuts, but it works for all colors…

Opinions?

(I should have saved peach for it, but it’s already in the bedroom and half bath…)

 

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