Thursday, October 29, 2009

Knitting through Thick and Thin

Knitting is therapeutic. Knitting is calming. Knitting is creative release. Knitting can also be hard on the eyes and finger joints. I have two (of eight) projects going now that could not be more different from each other. One is a mat for the kitties shaped like a big mouse rug. It’s a pattern from Pet Projects by Joanna Osborne and Sally Muir. The other is a Diamond Lace Bookmark from Dizzy Spinster Designs by Heather M. Brown. One uses size 10 needles and Wool-Ease Thick and Quick yarn, the other uses size 1 needles and Katia Gatsby Lux DK weight yarn (leftover from Liz’s shawl). When my eyes get tired, I can switch to the cat mat. When my fingers and hands get tired of holding the heavy stuff, I switch to the tiny needles. And so, you can persevere to the finish of the one thing you have going, or have several going at once to match your mood and current capability. It’s nice to have options in life and knitting.
From Blogger Pictures
From Blogger Pictures

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Backyard Pond Project

This spring, the hubby decided to build a pond in the backyard. We’ve been gradually creating a little oasis since we bought this house in 1992. At that time, the back yard was nothing but sand, a couple of oak trees and an unsightly burn pit. For years, we would find pieces of glass, bolts, wires and other trash every time we made a new flowerbed. One spot in the middle of the yard would never grow anything, including grass. Wayne decided it would be the perfect place for our pond. The pond would be a good place to put our butterfly peacock bass, Jack, who was outgrowing his 55 gallon tank in the house.

Our friend, Leon, had given us a 160-gallon pond form that he wasn’t using. It had been sitting in our shed for a year or so. Wayne started digging in the area of the old burn pit. After setting the form in place and backfilling, he cleared an area around the pond and put down weed block cloth. He then filled the pond and put in a filter system of his own design, using a plastic bucket with lid and pond pump. Wayne then punched holes in the top of the lid and lined the top with filter material. We had a big pile of bricks that a neighbor gave us years ago when she sold her house. We’ve used them to edge flowerbeds and used more of them to make a border around the pond. Another neighbor sold us leftover rock from his swimming pool waterfall project. We used those to edge the pond and disguise a cheap plastic waterfall feature we bought from Home Depot. A trip to PondScapes netted us a beautiful purple water lily and some very strange advice. The salesman said, to condition new pond water, pee in it.

Wayne let the filter do its work on our straight-from-the-well sulphury water for a couple of weeks. Then we put Jack in. We still had to buy feeder fish for him and he did well for about 3 weeks, then went belly up. Sad, sort of, but he was costing us $15 a week in feeders, and he could continue growing to an eventually enormous size (I told Wayne I wanted angel fish, but NO, he had to have the exotic one). Now Jack’s fertilizing a Norfolk Island Pine. We have 2 koi and a pleco that have been doing well for months. It will be time soon to upgrade the pump and add a heater for the few cold days we get here in the winter. We’ve put some solar lights shaped like rocks around the pond and a hummingbird feeder. It attracts Lenny, who will sit and watch the koi eat, and grandson, Krue. I tried to get a picture of the koi, but they’re still shy. We haven’t yet been able to buy the river pebbles we want for inside the brick border, so just filled in with eucalyptus mulch for now.  Click on the slide show to see bigger pictures.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Knitting for Charity

At work, we're having an auction to raise money for United Way. This year I've decided to donate a hand knitted washcloth and a nice scented soap. The high bidder will get to pick the color and pattern. I purchased the Zodiac patterns from KrisKnits. They are really fun to knit and I have scads of Peaches & Creme yarn from Pisgah.  We have lots of bakers offering cakes and brownies, administrators offering front line help at the library (oh, yeah!  shelve the 700's for 3 hours!), and I've auctioned orchid plants, but this will be a first for this type of craft.  I'll let you know what my offering brings.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Life without the Internet

What did I do every day after work, before I had a computer and the Internet? That would have been 15 years ago. I had a chance to remember the good old days when I lost my connection for 3 days this week. I have DSL through Internet Junction. It relies on Verizon to supply a working phone line to my house.  When the DSL light on my modem would just blink at me, I called Verizon first...on my cellphone (Sprint), because there was so much static on my land line that I couldn't converse.  The automated Verizon voice, very pleasant btw, had me do a test or two on my end and then informed me that they could have a technician at my home no earlier than Monday the 19th (5 days away at the time), sometime between 8 am and 9 pm.  Woohoo, thanksalot.  I was resigned to wait.  Later that night, dear hubby answered the phone and the nice automated Verizon voice asked a few yes or no questions, one of which was answered incorrectly, "yes" and the trouble ticket was closed.  The next morning, Thursday, I called Internet Junction, just to be sure it was the phone line as I suspected.  A real human took my call immediately and said she could not "see" me, saying she'd put in a trouble ticket with Verizon.  A Verizon tech was at my house the next morning, found a corroded line, replaced it and I was up and running Friday afternoon.  I guess it pays to be a company and not a lowly individual resident where Verizon is concerned. 

What I did in the meantime...knit, read, pet the cats.  But I really missed this.

Picture from Icanhazcheezburger LOLcats

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Frankenstein Pots

Don’t throw away your cracked terracotta pots. My clever husband, Wayne, discovered a method to fix them. We were watching Antiques Roadshow one evening and saw an old porcelain plate with a crack repair made with metal staples. A cartoon lightbulb suddenly appeared over his head as he thought about all of the old cracked terracotta pots in the garden shed. The next day, he fixed several of them and has saved all of the old pots now! Those things are expensive, especially the big ones. The repairs look really cool and are quite sturdy and now we have many more usable pots.

You will need a variable speed drill with a 3/16” carbide tipped concrete bit, heavy gauge wire, pliers and wire cutters. Wayne used 16-gauge rebar tie wire. First dunk the pot in water to soak the terracotta. This makes it less brittle and keeps the dust down when you drill it. Carefully drill a hole about ½ inch on either side of the crack. Use a steady medium speed and not too much pressure. Let the bit do the work. Thread the wire through the two holes with the ends on the inside of the pot. Use your pliers to twist the ends together. Snip the excess and use the pliers again to bend the wire twist in so the sharp ends are not sticking out. You don’t want to get scratched when you pot your plants. Longer cracks may require more than one wire repair. Here are some pictures of the results. Click on the pictures to enlarge.

From Frankenstein Pots

From Frankenstein Pots

From Frankenstein Pots

From Frankenstein Pots

From Frankenstein Pots

From Frankenstein Pots

From Frankenstein Pots

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Autumn in Florida

It's arrived! That season that passes for Autumn in Florida. We had a cool snap a couple of days ago. It got down into the 60's for a few nights, brrrr (it's back to 80 at night, now). The weather prompted several of the orchids in the back yard to start blooming. Now that it's not raining as much, we water them, mixing quarter strength orchid fertilizer (20-20-20) and a few drops of Superthrive for each gallon. Water weakly weekly, during dry weather.

Species Vanda - this one has 3 flower spikes on it and has just started opening.  It will have 10 flowers on one spike and 3-4 on each of the other two.  The flowers are large at about 5".

Deep Purple Denrobium

lc. mini purple Maikai again. This time with 3 flower spikes. This is the plant featured in my blog header. It's one of my favorites.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Double the knitting fun

While futzing around on Ravelry, I spotted a pattern for a dishcloth with a cow on it. My wonderful stepdaughter collects cows (not real ones, that would take up a lot of space). Making it will require my learning a new technique. Double knitting is not something I was familiar with, but the results so far are amazing! The pattern itself was short on information for someone new to this method, so I went to YouTube and found a great series of three videos to get me started.  It was easy to follow LiatMGat's instructions.

My only question, after watching all three tutorials, is how to bind off so that the bind off row matches the cast on row.  I'll ask her, and let you know what she says (unless you know and can tell me first).  I've changed the pattern a bit, using the video's cast on method instead of the pattern's (tricky one, that, but looks nice), and adding a stitch on either side for the slipped first stitch and the purled together last stitch. 

Now, with this, I have 6 projects going! 

Picture of cow-loving stepdaughter, Kimberly and adorable grandson, Krue...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Knitting therapy

I've been home sick for the last two days.  You don't want to know the symptoms.  Suffice it to say that I stayed close to the bathroom.  The one good thing is I knitted.  The knitting made me forget for minutes at a stretch that I was not feeling really chipper.  I made a washcloth in black yarn with a skull on it.  Until I started writing this post, I didn't think of the symbolism equating with my state of health.  Since I'm feeling somewhat better tonight, I've started another cloth in a festive ombre yarn with a lace leaf pattern.  I've also been reading posts by Crazy Aunt Purl, which have made me laugh.  Always good therapy, laughing and knitting.