Getting back into the swing of things…

Colorful leaves and a chill in the air always make me want to curl up in a chair and knit or crochet. So when summer wound down a couple of weeks ago, I pulled out my knitting books and magazines in search of the perfect pattern to get me back into the swing of things. I wanted something quick, but challenging, so I picked the Gretel Tam from Debbie Stoller’s Stitch’n Bitch Superstar Knitting.

It was pretty, it had cables (something I need to practice more) and I figured it would come in handy this winter since in theory it should fit over my longer hair better than my old hat. So…Nick and I found a new show to watch (Six Feet Under) and I cast on using Red Heart Super Tweed in Pinkberry, excited about my new hat!

15147020910_f8fb374512_oHowever, that excitement waned last week as somewhere along the way I lost count of my stitches; which isn’t all that surprising considering I got sucked into the Fisher family’s drama. I mean what is up with Brenda and Billy? Will David ever learn to relax? Is Ruth going to be miserable forever? She just wants to connect and be happy, but she doesn’t know how to do those things and it’s painful watching her try…

Needless to say I went back on some cables when I should have gone front, as I watched these people’s lives unfold. I decreased too much too soon and I ended up “finishing” the hat around row 48 when I should have been able to keep going until row 58.

~Sigh~

So I ended up with this stiff hat that fits more like a cloche than a tam and/or looks like a weird chefs hat if worn farther back on my head, which is dissapointing.

This one is definitely getting put in the box of stuff I have waiting in my car to take to charity:

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Here’s a picture of what it’s supposed to look like from the designer’s website: ysolda.com:

Gretel Tam - photo and design by Ysolda of ysolda.com

Gretel Tam – photo and design by Ysolda of ysolda.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So pretty!!

I’m going to have to try this one again in the future. Perhaps if I knit it during my commute to/from work, it will turn out better. Normally I would’ve ripped it up (or frogged it for you knitting purists) and started again, but with all the cables and decreasing that would have been more work than it was worth. For now Stitch’n Bitch Superstar Knitting, is going back on the shelf while I work on an embroidery project for my friend Heather’s baby shower next weekend.

More on that soon!

 

 

 

Grand Rapids Zine Fest

Yesterday I tabled at Grand Rapids Zine Fest, which was my first experience tabling at a zine fest outside of Chicago. I had a lot of fun and met a lot of great people, which has me excited to check out other Midwestern zine fests!

Here are all the zines I picked up. Can’t wait to read them all!

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I added something new to my repertoire for this zine fest, Touch & Go (a novel in increments). I wrote this novel in my early to mid-twenties and I’ve always meant to do something with it; however, I had a lot of problems with it as it was. In order to motivate myself to edit it, I decided to release it in zine form a few chapters at a time. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping people are into it. If they are, I plan on self-publishing it as a paperback book at some point.

Here’s what I took with me, plus I brought an assortment of my photo postcards, of course!

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Thanks to everyone who stopped by to look through my stuff and chat. Special thanks to everyone who bought a postcard or a zine. Extra special thanks to Sara and Drew for organizing the whole thing!

If you weren’t able to make it and are interested in getting a copy of Touch & Go (a novel in increments) Vol. 1, Second City Vegan (recipe zine) or Rip It Up & Start Again, visit my Storenvy page.

Addendum: Chicago folks Second City Vegan and Touch & Go (a novel in increments) are now available at Quimby’s, too!

 

 

Sunrise on Lake Michigan

Last week Nick helped me get the green machine up and running again. I got her new tires and tubes, he lubed up my chain, helped me install the tires and checked my brakes and I was good to go!

My green machine, a.k.a. my vintage Schwinn Varsity

My green machine, a.k.a. my vintage Schwinn Varsity

It had been over a year since I’d ridden it, so we took it out for a spin around Humboldt Park and while I was pleasantly surprised to find I could still ride, the idea of riding it on major streets between 9am – 1am freaks me out. I never was fully confident on streets, so I’ve decided to build up to it with early morning rides along major thoroughfares to enjoy those precious little things in life we often miss, like sunrises, while building confidence by learning to deal with traffic (minimal, of course), road hazards, etc. without all the stress. Kind of like how I learned to drive in an empty church parking lot and slowly worked my way up to the highway with all the zooming cars and distractions. I was able to master that with minimal scares and accidents, so hopefully I’ll be able to master this as well.

The first of these rides happened this morning at 4:30. Nick and I woke to a grey dawn full of chirping birds, dragged ourselves out of bed totally confusing the dogs since their internal clocks don’t wake them up until 6, groggily put on our gear and rode along Division Street (since it has bike lanes) to North Avenue beach in order to try to catch the sunrise at 5:15. We didn’t quite make it to the lake to see the sun break the horizon, but what we saw was pretty nonetheless.

Here are some of my favorite shots from the trip. Can’t wait ’til our next one!

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Chess Pavilion

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king queen copy

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Metaphoto: Partners in crime documenting each other documenting

Metaphoto: Partners in crime documenting each other documenting

Overall it was a lovely way to start a lovely day and I made it to and from the lake with almost no incident (I almost ran a pigeon over as I turned onto my street, but managed to avoid him and stay on my bike at the same time – win!)

Rekindling My Love of Photography via Boots

Whatcha doing mom?

Whatcha doing mom?

Uploading lots and lots of pictures, baby girl!

I’ve been picking my camera up a lot more lately. Like with every other hobby I have, I go through phases and spring and summer tend to mean more photos. There’s just something about sunny days and green trees that makes me want to capture moments, people and things.

This was the shot that inspired me to start taking pictures regularly again. It’s the first picture I’ve taken that I really, really like in a while.

Boots

Boots – Hammond, IN 2014

It’s a shot of my band, Boots (in which I play keyboard), wearing our boots outside of a punk house in Hammond, IN where we did some of our recording. Hopefully it will end up on the insert of our demo tape. My favorite thing about it is that it captures all of our personalities to a T and if you know us, it’s pretty easy to pick out who’s who.

We’re playing our second show and recording vocals for our demo tape next week! The ladies in the band are strong, smart and inspiring and I can’t wait to spend more time hanging out with them and playing shows this summer!

The Something Old, Something New, Somethings Borrowed and Something Blue Clock

A few months ago I stumbled upon Projectophile, thanks to a Facebook post made by Scott from King Crow Comics about his new chair which his wife, Clare*, the very funny and talented writer of Projectophile, had found in an alley and reupholstered.

I poked around her blog a bit and found this:img_3538-e1394679372153

Create Whimsical Wall Art Out of Dirty Old Hubcaps

My first thought was, Cool! My second thought was, I need a hubcap clock on my wall!

A week later I went out to The Chicago Diner for dinner with my band mates and found a perfectly shaped hubcap lying in the snow right where I had parked my car on California. So without hesitation, I popped my trunk open and threw it in. The hubcap clock was meant to be!

First order of business was to scrub it clean, rinse and then scrub again using an old toothbrush to get into all of those nooks and crannies. Like, Clare, I’m a renter, so I just threw it in the bathtub without a second thought and used a little Bon Ami to cut through the grime.

I cut off the zip tie and broke off unwanted pieces of plastic on the back of the hubcap at this point and then dried it (I used one of the towels we use to bathe the dogs to dry it off). Then I set it aside while I sketched out some possible color schemes.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASqueaky clean hubcap, front and back. I wouldn’t eat off of it, but it’ll do!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy original plan was to turn it into a black and white straightedge clock with 12 x’s instead of numbers, but after a bit of consideration I decided against that since I don’t want my apartment to look like the home of some 23-year-old youth crew boy.

Nick and I have been working towards a joint aesthetic ever since our roommate moved out and we turned his old room into our hobby room. Nick tends to go for simple, clean, square lines and earth tones, while I like bright colors, high contrast, rounded edges and texture. It’s been tricky, but it’s been fun and I’m trying to keep these things in mind when it comes to home projects and ask for his input, so we’re both happy.

I roughed out some sketches using MS Paint and ran them by him and surprisingly he was into the teal clock, which was one of my favorites.clocksSo I went out to the burbs to buy some glossy teal spray paint once it was warm enough to work outside and I was lucky enough to find a glossy white spray paint in our hobby closet. I also stopped by Joann’s to get a clock kit for $4.

Tip: Don’t ever buy anything at full price at major hobby stores. They all offer coupons ranging from 10%-50% off individual items and/or entire purchases if you sign up for their e-mail lists. Use them wisely. This will require doing a little math (ewww math**), but it’s worth it!

Once I had my clock kit I was able to figure out how big the whole at the center of my clock had to be and I got to use Nick’s power drill to make the hole myself!***OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe do all of our spray painting on our back porch (pros of renting from a landlord who doesn’t care much about what we do). I started out by taping a sheet of paper up to our back window to keep it as paint free as possible and got to work.

If you decide to make one of your own, be sure to coat evenly and let the paint dry between coats so you don’t get runny paint lines.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhile I waited for the hubcap to dry, I took the numbers and hands out of my clock kit and spray painted them white, because gold it my least favorite metallic color. Besides, I wanted the numbers and hands to pop against the background. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOnce those were done I went over the hubcap a few more times making sure all of the nooks and crannies had proper paint coverage.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen the clock pieces alternated between the dining room and the hobby room, while I tried to find the time to finish them and finally, I got to them this past week!

Before gluing my numbers onto the hubcap, they needed some touching up. This is were having a partner who’s main hobby is painting miniatures came in handy.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI used his file to get rid of excess plastic and the finger-pointing looking thing to scrape off excess paint.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI did all the numbers since I wasn’t sure whether I was going to use all of them or just some. After filing and scraping I touched them up using some white acrylic paint Nick had in his stash.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter a quick lesson in proper painting technique when using a good brush I was good to go.

For those who are curious, here are the key things to remember when using fancy paint brushes:

  • Dip your brush in water in between each paint application and water your paint down a bit before you use it.
  • Use a paper towel to wipe excess water off before dipping in paint again.
  • Hold your brush like a pencil for better control.
  • Don’t let paint get on the metal part of the brush.
  • Don’t ever leave your brush standing in the jar of water or your bristles will get splayed out ruining the brush.
  • If you must leave your brush, rinse it and lay it down on the paper towel before leaving.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOnce my numbers were dry I learned how to use CA glue.

After playing around with the numbers for a bit, I decided to divide my clock in quarters since space was tight and then I laid my numbers down.

Once the glue was dry I added the clock mechanism and hands, a AA battery, set the time and voila! I now have a functioning clock.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere’s the greater picture. Please ignore the mess and chipped paint – our built-in needs some major work.

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* Thanks for the idea and the photo, Clare!

**Math is cool, I just have a love/hate relationship with fractions and percentages.

*** Woohoo, power tools!

Upcycling Doors Into Furniture: Step 2 – Table and Couch Assembly

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOver the past few weeks, Nick and I have been building furniture from old doors and it all started because of the vintage brown door you see above; which Nick found in an alley a couple of years ago. It’s been living on our back porch ever since, waiting for the perfect project.

As I mentioned in my first post about this project, we acquired a few more doors via Craigslist and decided to turn them into a bench, a couch and an end table.

The first thing we built right after cutting our wood was the end table. I got to use a power drill for the first time and managed to break my first drill bit on the fifth hole (whoops!). Nick hovered while I drilled at first and the experience brought back tension-filled memories of my dad teaching me to drive in his car, so I asked him to give me space and he left me to my own devices. I felt bad about the drill bit, but I replaced it with a two-pack a couple of days later.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASince we had to wait a couple of days to finish the table, due to a broken drill bit, Nick, re-evaluated how he was going to construct it. He decided to use dowels and wood glue in addition to the joint he put in to make it sturdier.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe joints were made from pieces of scrap wood that were drilled into the insides of the table legs and the underside of the table. They’re what I was working on when I broke the bit.

Here’s Nick gluing the leg in place before attaching it to the joint with some wood screws:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd here’s the lovely, Ian MacKaynine, posing with the assembled table:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe next thing we worked on was the couch, because we needed a place for the Baran’s to sit when they came to visit us last weekend!

We stood the doors up on their ends and Nick drilled holes and screwed the elbow joints in while I help the doors upright.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt wasn’t very sturdy with just the elbow joints, so we added some off-cuts from an old door along the joint in order to help stabilize it. Then we tipped the couch onto its back and attached the legs with some more elbow joints:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe carefully tipped it right side up and here’s the finished couch!:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANext post will cover cushion construction and the bench, so stay tuned!

 

 

Throwback Thursday: The Unloved

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m notorious for pouring hours into making things for myself because they look cool in a magazine, wearing them once, deciding I don’t like them for some reason and then giving them away.

Here are a few of those things:

jumper

Completed: February 2, 2009

Project: Cabled Jumper from the now defunct Knit 1 Magazine.

What Went Wrong: Cute in theory, but so tight you could see the hem of my shirt through it and due to my body shape it would shift up as I walked, bunching around my waistline.

Lessons learned: I learned how to make cables, which is handy. I also learned that just because something looks nice on a model in a magazine doesn’t mean it will look nice on me or be functional.

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Completed: November 17, 2009

Project: Flouncy skirt from one of Interweave’s Knit Scene magazines.

What Went Wrong: I wasn’t a big fan of the stripes. Also I followed the pattern without measuring myself first and I didn’t check length along the way so it ended up being too short for me to wear comfortably.

Lessons learned: Steer clear of variegated yarns when it comes to large clothing items unless you really, really like stripes and/or surpises! Don’t bind-off on a skirt until you’re sure you’re comfortable with it’s length.

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Completed: February 27, 2011

Project: A crocheted A-line skirt; yet another item from Knit 1 Magazine.

What Went Wrong: The waistband ended up being loose and saggy. I also had no idea what I was doing when I installed the zipper. Out of all of these, this got worn the most, though, (3 times) with tops that covered the waistband issue.

Lessons Learned: Always remember knits stretch and modify patterns to your body size. Also unless you want a lot of frustration and a lumpy zipper, do not attempt to install a zipper on your own if you have no idea what you’re doing! That’s what YouTube is for.