26 December 2010

At Last! I'm a Published Knitting Designer

I've been knitting for ... well .... let's say a long, long time. Most of that time, I've been either designing my own patterns or heavily adapting patterns I found elsewhere. I write them up as if they were published patterns, and take them with me.

I thought about selling my patterns, but the work of printing and marketing them to yarn stores across the country (or getting paid peanuts for meeting crazy magazine deadline) seemed like too much trouble. So I gave up on the idea, and eventually took a break from knitting altogether.

Well, people need mittens, and old ones get lost/outgrown/worn out. Both my husband and son needed new pairs, and I was not about to buy inferior products! So out came the needles again. My son's came straight from my favorite mitten book (_Flying Geese and Partridge Feet_, by Robin Hansen, unfortunately out of print), but my husband's are an original design.

I wandered over to Ravelry (a large, friendly social web site for knitters and crocheters) for the first time in a couple of years ... and they now allow designers to upload and sell patterns. Cool! I puzzled out the instructions for setting up a shop and posting patterns for sale, and put up a couple of old patterns I had ready to roll — one sold within 3 hours of posting! You can bet I'll be putting up a lot more in the future.

So, for any knitters out there, cruise on over and see if you like my work. As with my other online shops, my Ravelry shop is under the name Cartesian Bear.

31 August 2010

Today at the Borg

So, this morning, my daughter "Ocelot" and I went to the local Big Orange Box so I could get the lumber I needed for my saw bench, and a box of cut nails. I needed one 10' long 2 by 8, any cheap wood.

I've found there are two types of BORG employees. One understands that anyone can buy anything, and they shouldn't pass judgements. The other is sure the "little lady" and her daughter couldn't possibly need a 2 by 8, and tries to "help" by steering me to the decorating aisle.

I got rid of the clerk and made it, unscathed, to the lumber. We found the 2 by 8s, and it didn't take long for me to find a nice, almost knot free board. Not only that, it was flat, with just a little crook. Off we went to the cashier (who did not pass judgement).

I drive a Subaru wagon. I am short. Therefore, the 10 foot long board would not fit in my car, and I couldn't lift it to the roof to tie it in place. I planned for this, and brought my plans, and my tool kit. So the construction jocks got a lovely view of a middle aged woman, wielding a ryoba, sawing a 2 by 8, with a teenage Goth girl sitting in the way back, holding the board in place. Fun.

Just as we finished, a friend who is also a Maker walked by, and we chatted about the uselessness of most Borg employees. More fun.

It's Been a While ...

... and I'm taking this blog in a new direction. Go ahead and unsubscribe, I won't mind.

This past summer, I've taken up a new craft — hand tool woodworking. I'm mentally buried in it, so that's what I expect I'll be blogging about for the conceivable future.

Ever since I first saw The Woodwright's Shop in its first year of production, I've wanted to build furniture. But Life has always gotten in the way, and though I watched the occasional TV show, and bought the odd book/magazine, I did very little else. However, I finally decided now is the time, and I've been collecting the tools I need to get started.

Fall, 2008 I tool an adult ed woodworking class at the local vo-tech school. As is typical, it was machine-heavy. I learned to use circular saws, jigsaws, chop saws, band saws, routers, belt sanders (not the table saw, the teacher wouldn't let us near it) ... and I learned I hated them all, the noise, the safety requirements, the migraines from fine dust. But I loved the end product. So, I've decided to work with hand tools as much as possible.

I've been collecting a starter kit of hand tools. I don't have nearly as many as I'd like, but I do have enough to get started. And I decided on my first project: a saw bench, that I can use for sawing boards as well as for a mini-bench.

24 November 2009

Music & the Trades

As our remodel project comes to a close (or, the part where we hire outsiders does), I feel like I've learned a bit about human nature.

For example, different house-building trades have different stereotype personalities, and listen to different music.

The framing carpenters were the tough but smart guys. They all smoked, and probably drink lots of beer (not on the job, though). They wanted to take home wood from a dead apple tree for smoking meat. They listened to country music. They wielded circular saws one handed, and could easily do fractional arithmetic.

Roofers are macho. We had them here on a hot summer day, and it seemed they were having a contest to see who could wear the least clothing and sweat the most. I took the kids to the pool that day.

Plumbers are smart, but narrow-minded. They'll plan out an entire house full of plumbing, doing complex heat loss calculations but don't realize they should not drill large holes through the giant wood beam holding up the back of the house. [Fortunately, we stopped them before the beam became swiss cheese.] Their radio played top 40.

We had one, older electrician. He started work late, left early, and moved slowly — but did an amazing amount of work. He was willing to let my husband and me help do the work, and he explained to my Mad Engineer how house wiring is different than wiring robots. He's also fully savvy about phone and internet wiring. He didn't bring a radio, and I like him a lot.

The insulation spray-er had fun in his protective gear (plastic coverall, full face mask and respirator) pretending to be a monster and trying to scare my 9 year old son. Fun.

Today, the sheet rock hangers are here. In the building industry, these guys are considered apes — they don't talk, just blast through screw guns a'blazing. They are a bit rough, but perfectly nice, though they are playing Christmas carols far too loudly.

Still to come are the plasterers and the wood floor installer.

I was told that these guys all were anti-social and didn't want to talk to the home owner. Not quite true ... though they would never win the Dale Carnegie award, they are polite, willing to answer simple questions about the work, and don't mind showing off their skill. It helped that I never looked down on them, but treated all as skilled workers who want to do good work for an appreciative home owner. And they are doing good work. The one truly anti-social guy, a plumber, was also incompetent, and we hired someone else as soon as we could.

26 September 2009

Sewing for Aspies?

As usual, I'm not posting enough.

On the heels of my last post, with bits of chain mail scattered throughout the house, I've gone back to an older hobby — garment sewing. Finally, Ocelot has decided it's time to learn to sew, so we're making a coat for her, using a sewing pattern. [Vogue 1069] We're making it unlined, out of the best bolt of black fleece I could find in the stupid-chain-but-only-fabric-store-for-miles. In addition to teaching Ocelot, I'm teaching myself to alter a commercial vest pattern for myself.

Ocelot is doing well, a little sloppy but she is 13 and this is her first major project. Her autism spectrum thing (used to be labeled NLD, until she did well on a visual memory evaluation, now it's PDD-NOS) is getting in the way a little, but she and I have learned over the years to work together. Me? I'm my usual, mildly Aspie perfectionistic (only on sewing projects, go figure) self.

As usual, I've been combing the cyber-world for useful info on sewing. As with the stupid-chain, there's precious little out there except for quilting and home desecration. But I finally found a blog that is so interesting I've gone back to the archives and I'm reading every post.

Fashion Incubator is the work of Kathleen Fasanella, a clothing industry master patternmaker. Her blog is not geared to home sewers, and she has some unkind things to say about home sewing "experts". Much of the information she posts is geared to small clothing manufacturers. But she has some incredible tutorials on industrial sewing methods that can be used by anyone, and some fascinating rants of sizing and the fashion industry.

Kathleen has Asperger's Syndrome too, and this colors her writing. I was also surprised to learn that few of the technical people in the fashion industry are fashionable people themselves, and a large number of them, possibly including some famous designers, had/have spectrum tendencies! I always thought fashion and Aspie didn't mix.

Each year, I seem to find a new area of research to study, and it looks like this year's will be the clothing industry.

01 August 2009

New Hobby ... Chainmail

I needed a new hobby like I needed a hole in my head. [My Dad used this saying a lot, but it never made sense to be because we already have holes in our heads.] But summer without air conditioning is too hot to knit, my woodworking takes up space we don't have until the remodel is done, and if I don't do something with my hands I go stir-crazy.

A friend was working on chainmail at some cons we both attended, and I was impressed at how cool it was. Finally, in April I took the plunge and ordered some pre-cut rings and pliers from The Ring Lord. They arrived a couple of weeks later (slow shipping from the wilds of Saskatchewan). I started linking the rings together, and I was hooked!

There's a lot more to chainmail (also called maille) than armor and exotic underwear. Using the same methods, one can make some incredible jewelry chains. Working with the rings is like solving a topology puzzle: can this size rings make that chain? How do I fit that ring in there? How can I hold it with the pliers to close the ring? I'm finding it good work for my brain as well as my hands.

I have another order of rings due to arrive soon. And I have a project list:
- a bronze vest, tailored style, for me
- chains to loop around Ocelot's black pants
- backpack zipper pulls in many colors (anodized aluminium) to sell at Climber's school's holiday marketplace

And some other rings to make some jewelry from. Who knows, maybe I'll go into business selling chainmail creations!

Remodeling Catch Up

It's been a while since I wrote about our big remodeling project — or about anything. In this post I'll do a catch up on the house.

When we last left the project, The Merry Men were beginning demolition. They finished that in short order, and began framing the new walls for the new space. At that point, the project came to a crashing halt.

Our architect had applied for the building permit, and we anticipated it would take about a week to go through town hall, gathering the required signatures along the way. Well, it took over a month! The Merry MEn had done everything they could do without a permit, so we were in Limbo (not for the last time).

Eventually the permit came through, and we were back in building mode. In about a week, we had the hole for the new foundation dug, the footings poured, the forms for the foundation set, and the foundation poured. The forms were stripped, the outside of the foundation waterproofed, and we were waiting for the building inspector to sign off on the foundation.

And waiting ... we were out of town, Tom Framer came out several times to check for the inspector's signature on the permit ... nothing. Finally, on Monday he called the town hall — the inspector had come by and approved the foundation, but forgot to sign the permit!

From there, the work proceeded quickly again. At least a lot went on during each work day — but there was so much rain that some days, more time was spent taking down tarps in the morning then replacing them when the mid-afternoon storms rolled in. Eventually, by mid-July, the framing was completed, with Tyvek on the walls and ice shield on the roof. It's a fantastic space, I've been taking a chair out there and reading, enjoying the view.

After putting on lots of bug spray ... we have huge holes where the windows and doors will be. Our architect took his time ordering the windows, and they are slow in arriving. We've been told "they'll be here by the end of the week 3 times now.

So here we sit, waiting for windows. Theoretically, we could begin the rough plumbing, but the plumber is on another job. This is a true-life example of the famous triangle principle: in building, you have 3 elements driving the process: (low) money, (high) quality, and (fast) time, and you may have any two, never all three. We don't have the money, so we decided to sacrifice time ...