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February 7, 2015

I haven't done a lot of crochet this past year, and it's all the fault of an afghan.

I get much colder at night than B., so I have a throw for my side of the bed.  It's a basic no-sew, fringed and tied end fleece blanket that I've had for ages.  It went much better in my previous bedroom with its rustic style.  It looks downright silly on a Chippendale four-poster.

My book doesn't actually look like this.
So I thought I'd crochet a nicer looking afghan, about the same size.  I eventually came across a Leisure Arts book on Aran afghans and bought it, about the time we moved to Boulder.  Then I found some sage green yarn at Walmart, and bought a few skeins of that.

I particularly liked this book for the way it gave instructions.  It would specifically label sections, i.e. (cable row) so you could conceivably combine different stitches and make up your own pattern.

I went with the Basketweave afghan, although I initially bought it for the Sampler afghan.  Sewing together sections of crocheted yarn is annoying, so I moved on.

I'm terrible when it comes to reading crochet instructions all the way through.   I figure if I don't know a stitch, it will take me five minutes to look it up and figure out how to do it.

Really, I should have stopped here.
What I should have been paying attention to is what the stitches were.  It took me a while to realize that the afghan instructions I'd chosen were not symmetrical.  One side was different than the other!  This annoyed me to no end.  Not to mention that I discovered that the afghan was going to be a lot narrower than I anticipated.  So I decided to start winging it.  I repeated several rows to give it extra width, and looked through the rest of the book to decide which stitches I liked enough to include in my blanket.

About this time B. got interested in the project.  He liked the look of it.  He suggested that I make it big enough to cover the bed.  The big, huge, king sized bed that comes up to my waist and is fondly referred to as the Monster Bed.  I resisted, but he kept suggesting, and so I modified my pattern again.  I bought more yarn.  Then even more.  I had to wait and ransack various Walmarts because they generally only carried 4-6 at a time, and apparently the had exclusive selling rights on that particular color, because it was the only place I could find it.

The afghan got bigger. And heavier.  And harder to maneuver.  Eventually I stopped working on it, because I'd had a molar removed and was exhausted and achy and recovering slowly, and it was just too hard to deal with.  Plus the weather was getting warmer and I was sitting under a ridiculous amount of yarn.

I didn't attempt to start any other projects during the year because 'I still had that afghan to finish.'  (I did knit a few hats.)  Finally in January I hauled it back out, and finished it in early February 2014.

That center panel is an example of the 'Celtic Weave'

When I was a foot from the end, I came to the horrible realization that the celtic weave panels had really messed up my stitch count.  Yes, that's another bad crochet habit I have, not double checking how many stitches are in a row, but when you have to count up to 241, you don't want to do it often.  Fortunately I was able to tug it all straight for the photo!  You can also see it isn't long enough to cover the foot of the bed, but that's because it wasn't meant to when I started it.  I don't like fringe, and I really don't want to have to come up with an additional panel, so I'm just going to call it done.

You want to know the stats now, don't you?  I haven't measured it, but I did manage to make it hang down to the side rails on the bed, so it's at least 110" wide.  I lost count early on of how many skeins I used.  So after taking these pictures, I was crawling around on the bed for a good half hour, searching carefully for where I had woven in a new skein to the old and tying bits of red thread around the spot.  I came up with 36 skeins.  That's roughly 9,000 yards, or 27,000 feet of yarn.  Each skein is roughly 5 ounces, so the whole things weighs a touch over eleven pounds. 

It's nice and warm, and I no longer have to move it, or really look at it.  And eventually I will find a bedspread for underneath it that I like and actually fits properly, and get a dust ruffle made, since one can't be had for a decent quality and price.  

In the meantime, I'm going back to hats and scarves and amigurumi and other stuff that travels easily, or at least can be carried up and down the stairs without issue . . .
February 3, 2015

Well, didn't that month just fly by!  Things got a little crazy, and very little crafting got done.  Why?

We attacked the kitchen.  It was time.

Here's the kitchen from the online listing, right before we moved in.


The island didn't stand a chance.
It started right before Christmas, and fortunately after I had finished my holiday baking.   We started simple.  We'd always had the impression that the island was in the wrong place.  There should be a "magic triangle" between your stove, sink, and fridge that allows for unimpeded traffic, and the island was causing us to veer to the left to get from the sink to the refrigerator.  B. had lots of holiday leave and we decided that we might as well take the time to experiment.  A few good shoves and a heave or two allowed us to detach the island from the floor.  It was only attached in four places with a few screws directly into the grout!  We cut the power to the island and detached the wiring to the outlet, and proceeded to  turn it 90 degrees and 'float' the thing around to determine its best position,  We picked a spot we thought would work and left it there for a week to see how it would work, nudging it one way or another once in a while.

Then we went appliance shopping.  As best we could tell, the appliances that came with the house have been there since it was first built, and all almond colored.  I personally didn't care so much about the color, so long as they worked right, but the dishwasher was on its last legs and oozing muck and not cleaning dishes properly.  The stovetop had two settings, 'not hot enough' and 'BURN.'  The microwave was a spare one B. had bought during his brief time working in Charlotte, was underpowered and tiny, and taking up space on the counter.  The counter?  In surprisingly good shape for laminate, but we were missing our black granite countertops from the townhouse.

The sink?  Surprisingly not almond, but I was also missing the huge, deep composite sink with the combo faucet/pull out sprayer we'd had in the townhouse.  I freely admit I do not understand double bowled sinks even after looking up hand washing methods for dishes.  It was not my style.  I wanted to be able to lay my Pyrex dishes flat to scrub them!  Fortunately this was apparently THE time to replace stuff, and we got some really good deals on the appliances we picked out.  

We'd contacted contractors before and had dismal success in getting them to commit to installing gas lines and range hood vents that vented outside. These were things that needed to be done before we replaced the electric range with a gas range, and ultimately the reason it took us so long to get to the renovation. This time, contractors showed up, gave reasonable estimates, and then did not fall off the face of the Earth, but came back and got the work done WITHIN A WEEK.  It was shocking, and we found ourselves rushing to keep up.  We actually had to beg the granite people to come later, because we had appliance deliveries the same day they wanted to arrive!  

We had to eat out a lot in the end, which is not fun when there's not a lot of allergy safe places to eat.   I think the people at Mumtaz know us by name now!
The whirlwind was very frustrating.  There was a certain order in which to accomplish things, and we had a hard time keeping that order.  We had to install a regular outlet behind the stove for the new range, which was complicated in its own right, and meant the old stove spent a lot of time sitting out in the middle of the kitchen.  It's really annoying not to be able to walk around your kitchen!  Then we pretty much had to wait to install the new appliances until the granite was installed.  The new over-the-range microwave had to be mounted, and holes drilled into the cabinet above before the mounting could take place, which the guy installing the venting system couldn't do without the microwave and its special hole drilling template, so he had to come back, and was very gracious about doing so.  I had to empty out the bottom cabinets before the granite install, and take apart the appliance garage in the one corner, which meant I had to empty out the cabinet above as well.  We had to wait another day after the granite was installed to get the sink and faucet installed (same ones we had in Centreville, yay!) and all sorts of minor yet complicated and drawn out chaos.  Then we had to put the kitchen back in order, including properly securing the island to the floor, which is what we were attempting to do the morning the granite people arrived (hours early!).  

 We also decided to rearrange some of the drawers, and I took the opportunity to add some little-used items to the donation box.  I am still attempting to find new homes for some items.  I also took the opportunity to replace all the brass knobs with some silver colored ones, which seemed to go well with all the grey in the granite.

It's now February, and the chaos is still ongoing.  The new granite is about 1/4" thinner than the old laminate counters, which means the appliance garage now has a 1/4" gap between the counter and the cabinet above.  I am working on fixing that with wood strips, but having issues with matching the stain.  Eventually we will have to replace the backsplash because of the thinner counter issue, but right now it will do.  Meantime, I have boxes in the dining room with stuff that belong in corner cabinets.

The new granite counters go well with both the
cabinets and the appliances, but this irritates
my desire for uniformity.
There is still more to do, of course.  We have yet to address the lighting issue, and as you can see from the first photo, it's a big, ugly one.  I have holes to fill and grout to clean and a backsplash to design and install, or have installed.  Since we made the island countertop bigger, we may end up adding brackets to help support where it sticks out over the one end.  There are things I need to learn to ignore and not scrub at endlessly, as in the picture to the left.  The towel hanger is more frustrating than useful.  The pantry is ridiculously designed.  It's a four foot wide pantry with a two foot door smack in the center.  We want to rip out that door and install two double doors so we can easily reach everything in the pantry instead of having to shuffle items in and out of the way to get to things on the edges.  We're exhausted so I think those projects are going to get put off for a bit.

Hopefully now I can focus on some smaller projects I had started before I realized the kitchen was actually happening!