Stripping!

No, not that kind of stripping.

I was doing my nails and set my little cup of acetone down on my desk without realizing some had overflowed and was on the bottom of the cup. By the time I realized what I’d done a few seconds later, it had very effectively stripped the finish off my desk in a ring.

2015 05-25 Desk 1I was upset at first, but then I realized that under the grungy finish, my desk had some really pretty wood.

This is what the desk top looked like:

2015 05-25 Desk 2You can see the acetone ring, and a lot of other scratches and marks.  The whole thing was just vaguely greyish and not very pretty.  I didn’t mind how it looked too much, since it was a nice, solid wood desk that I’d been given by relatives, but once I realized how much nicer it could be, I checked out some tutorials on refinishing wood furniture.  The process seemed like something I’d find fun, so I decided to go shopping.

2015 05-25 Desk 3Stripping the old finish was a pretty easy, though tedious, process.  First I applied the Citristrip and left it to do its business for half an hour to an hour, then scraped the resulting goop off.

2015 05-25 Desk 4It was just as gross in person as it is in the picture.  Once I’d gotten the majority of the old finish off, I wiped the desk down with acetone in order to take off any remaining bits of finish — it had worked very effectively before, and was just as effective this time.

Now my desk looks like this:

2015 05-25 Desk 52015 05-25 Desk 6I was pleasantly surprised how few of the scratches on the desk’s surface had actually damaged the wood.

Next, I’ll be sanding the surfaces and refinishing it.  I still haven’t made up my mind whether or not I’m going to use the red oak stain I got on it, or just leave it the natural color of the wood, but I’m leaning towards using the stain.

This project has taken up a bit more time than I had initially thought it would, and has disrupted some of my other crafting, as my desk is out of commission, but I’m really enjoying it and can’t wait to see the final version!

Oh, and here’s the manicure that started this whole thing, because I can’t resist showing it off:

2015 05-25 Nails

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Parking

I recently got the urge to work on my Morning Flight cross stitch again.  Then I quickly remembered why I’d stopped working on it.

Back when I started it, I had decided to do this project one color at a time, going from the background to the foreground.   In general I liked this process, but having to do a ton of one color gets a bit tiring.  When I put the piece down, I had been working on light blue.  You can barely distinguish it from the background fabric and it felt like I wasn’t making any progress.

2015 05-11 Parking 1It actually shows up better in that photo than in real life.

I decided that the one-color-at-a-time thing just wasn’t fun any more, and thought I’d give parking a try.  If you’re not familiar with parking, it basically means working on one small chunk of the piece at a time (I’ve seen a lot of people do 10 stitch by 10 stitch squares at a time) and when you no longer need a particular color of thread in that little chunk, you park it in the next chunk you’re going to work so that it’s waiting for you when you get to it.

I found the process a lot of fun and less confusing than it had looked at first.  I started in the bottom left corner as it had no work done there yet.  I opted to do a row of ten stitches at a time, instead of a ten stitch square, as part of the appeal of parking for me is that you can avoid having to work a stitch that is completely surrounded by stitches (it’s just harder to get your needle through the fabric in those cases).

2015 05-11 Parking 2

When I got to the sections where I had already done quite a bit of stitching, I ended up switching so that instead of working a row at a time, I’m working a 10×10 block at a time — I found it was easier to work around the preexisting stitches that way.

2015 05-11 Parking 3I got a whole column done (okay, it’s a half column, but the pattern is four pages, so it’s a whole column on one page).  I’m very happy with the progress and I’m looking forward to continuing parking on any larger pieces I do.  I do want to switch to working from the top down instead of the bottom up as I had done for this column, as I think it will be easier for my stitching style.

Stitching update

As promised, here’s the update on my cross stitching and blackwork projects.  First up, my Save the Stitches blackwork sampler.

2015 04-13 BlackworkI love this thing — it’s a ton of fun to work and it’s going to be amazing when I hang it on my wall.  My camera sometimes has trouble picking the patterns up, so here are two close-ups to show you the stitching better:  2015 04-13 Blackwork 22015 04-13 Blackwork 3

Next, you may recall that I was working a horse pattern that I’d wanted to do forever but didn’t have the exact right materials for.  It’s coming along well:

2015 04-13 HorseMy only real issue with it is that I don’t love the reddish brown I created with a blended needle:

2015 04-13 Horse 2I don’t feel like ripping it out and I don’t really have a better option, so I’m just not going to worry about it — it looks okay from a distance, and I suspect part of the reason I don’t like it is that I’ve seen the original pattern so I know what it’s supposed to look like.

Finally, I don’t think I’ve actually worked on my Morning Flight since last time you saw it, but I’m including it here for completeness’ sake (plus pulling it out to photograph made me really want to start working on it again!).

2015 04-13 Morning Flight

Knit all the things!

Wow, it’s been a while.  I’ve been busy crafting, but never seemed to be able to get pictures to have anything to share (mostly because I was knitting late at night and never thought about it during the day).

Almost a year ago, I’d talked about a system of bags I’d created so I’d could only have five projects going at one time.  I’m still using the bags, and I really like how they keep my projects contained and in sight but not taking up table space.  However, I’ve got way more than five projects at the moment…  The last couple of months I’ve been in the mood to start a ton of things, and I decided to just go with it.  (And now I’m working on finishing things so I can get back down to five.)  A lot of the things I’m going to be showing today were started in that time.  (You can click on the pictures to go to my Ravelry project page for more details on any of them, or the links to see the Ravelry entry for the pattern and designer.)

First off, if you read my last post on the hanging storage, you’ll remember that I had a pair of cabled knee socks I was knitting.  Since then, I’d realized the yarn I had was terrible for cables, so I restarted them as a pair of lace socks.  Then I decided I didn’t really like the lace pattern.  So I ripped everything out and started poking around Ravelry’s pattern database for ideas.  Turns out, the yarn is perfect for a beaded lace shawl that I’ve been wanting to do ever since I first saw it — Boo Knit’s Out of Darkness.2015 4-8-15 Shawl

If you look at the top edge, you can see I’m finally past all the garter stitch and on to the lace!

I also made myself a little rat out of some of my oldest yarn.

2015 4-8 Rat

I love the realism of the pattern, by Rabbit Hole Knits.  However, after making this little fellow, I’ve come to the conclusion that I hate working on tiny things that need to be pieced together, so I suspect this will be my last toy.

I also started a really nifty colorwork hat by Liat Hessel — I love the way the pattern comes together at the crown of the hat!  I’m using this as a project to use up some old yarn that I have, and am planning on donating the finished hat, as bright red really isn’t my color.

2015 4-8 Hat

Speaking of using up some leftover yarn, I’m also making myself a lace earwarmer/headband out of the leftovers from another project.  I started it back when it was freezing outside, but of course I didn’t get it done in time to wear it.  I’m hoping that I can get it done before it gets to be freezing again!

2015 4-8 Earwarmer

I also ended up starting two scrap projects, one for my aran-weight acrylic and one for my fingering-weight sock yarn.  For the acrylic, I’m using Frankie Brown’s Ten Stitch Blanket (which is a brilliant design).

2015 4-8 Ten Stitch Blanket

For the sock yarn, I’m using a slight variation on the Beekeeper’s Quilt by Tiny Owl Knits.  I’m not stuffing the hexagons, and I’m planning on sewing them together rather than just tying the corners.  I haven’t made much progress, but it’s a really great project to keep in a little pouch so if I’m running out somewhere and want to grab something to do, I have all my supplies.

2015 4-8 Hexagons

Last, but certainly not least, is my rug.  You may recall when I mentioned that the knitting needle I’d bought for it broke.  The manufacturer sent me a replacement, which is showing no signs of trouble (I am being careful with it, especially as the rug gets heavier and heavier).  I’ve not made a ton of progress since then, but I have gotten several more color stripes done:

2015 4-8 Rug

For the record, I did not force my dog to lie on the rug instead of the couch (where she has been in past photos).  If I leave the rug out somewhere where she can get to it, she will lie on it (she’s currently lying on the folded up rug).

Whew!  That was a lot of knitting to get caught up on (and it really gives me more motivation to stick to my current projects instead of starting more!).  My next update will probably be a progress report on my cross stitch and blackwork, as that’s the other main category of crafting that I’ve been working on.

I’m back

Well, it ended up taking a lot longer than I’d anticipated to get back to blogging after my vacation. I’m pleased to report that I did finish knitting my brother’s gloves in time to give them to him for Christmas:

2015 01-19 B's gloves

He approves.

I also did some more work on my Morning Flight cross stitch over the break, and got as far as adding the first full crosses!
2015 01-19 Full crosses

This is what it looked like before I took it off the frame:

2015 01-19 Morning Flight

I took it off the frame to begin work on the Save the Stitches blackwork sampler (free pattern available at Blackwork Journey). It’s a sampler of 131 different blackwork stitches, with multiple variations of each stitch.  I plan on finishing it as a wall hanging, probably with a black fabric border. This is one and a half of the 24 blocks making up the pattern:

2015 Save the stitches
(Sorry for the slight fuzziness — it turns out to be quite a difficult pattern to photograph for me.)

Holiday crafting progress report

Well, I’ve made a fair bit of progress on my brother’s fingerless gloves, although I’d like to be further along:

12-8-14 B glove

Part of the issue is that, now that I’ve finished Lily’s bed, I’m not feeling like knitting as much anymore. This means I’ve gone back to my Morning Flight cross stitch and made quite a bit of progress:

I’m realizing that the blues I’ve been working on are make up a huge part of the cross stitching in that pattern, so while I’m only barely into the number of colors I need to work, I’m pretty far into the total number of stitches

12-8-14 Morning Flight.

Refocusing

I’ve not blogged for a couple of weeks, due to a combination of begin busy and working on non-photogenic projects.  Please accept this photo of Lily “assisting” me with cutting out a pair of pajama pants as an apology:

You weren't planning on using this any time soon, were you?
You weren’t planning on using this any time soon, were you?

This year has gone very fast for me, and now that it’s December, I’m realizing I really need to focus on my christmas projects… I have five things I’d like to get done before christmas:

1) A pair of fingerless gloves for my little brother.  I’m using the lovely Hidden Gusset pattern from Knitty and some grey Regia sock yarn.

12-1-14 B gloveThis one is probably the most important to me, although knowing my brother, he’d find a glove and a half (still on the needles) under the tree hilarious.  I’d prefer to avoid that, however.

2) A knight on horseback hand puppet from an ancient kit I’ve got.  So far I’ve finished the horse and just need to make the knight.

12-1-14 Horse12-1-14 horse headLook at that cute (or maybe slightly disturbing…) face!  This one needs to be done by Dec 15 if it’s going to get done, as I don’t want to try to finish it at my parents’ house.  It’s not critical that it get done, either.

3) A dragon hand puppet from a similar kit.  This is the one I was working on earlier, but it got put on hold for a bit due to misplacing some of the pieces.  I’ve got them, so I just need to finish it.

Dragon projectLike above, this needs to get done by Dec 15 or not for this year.

4) Chocolate truffles.  I made truffles from How to Cook That‘s chocolate truffle recipes last year, and they were amazing, so I’m going to make them again (I’m planning on making orange, raspberry, caramel, and hazelnut praline).  I can’t start them until I get to my parents’ house, but I do need to write out the ingredient lists in advance so we can get everything we need.

5) Christmas crackers.  I always make homemade crackers to pull.  Like the truffles, this will be done at my parents’ house sometime between the 15th and the 25th.  I need to make some extra crackers this year, so I’ll try to get photographs of the whole process and put up a tutorial on this blog.  While I don’t need to start the crackers themselves yet, I do need to make some extra prizes at some point, which I can do now.

My projects for this year’s holidays work out pretty well, as I have some to do in the next two weeks, and some to do the two weeks after that.  I think I can get them all done, and as long as the gloves, truffles, and crackers get done, I’ll be okay.

What (if any) holiday crafting are you doing?  Or are you more organized than I am and are already done?

Rug, week 6

This past week, I’ve taken the rug with me on a couple of days when I knew I was going to be sitting around for quite a while.  I ended up putting in about 3,000 stitches on each of those days!

Rug Wk 6It’s now big enough that I’ve been leaving it on the floor when I’m not working on it.

Also, I realized I’ve not linked to the pattern in my last couple of updates.  It’s the Ocean Currents Rug, just a little bit larger (details on my Ravelry project page if anyone else is thinking of doing similar).