Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Entry Points

About 2 years ago, I began to notice that my exterior doors were starting to deteriorate.  The worst of the bunch was the patio door in the family room.  It began with small spots of rust that spread to huge spots of rust and finally to chunks of the door crumbling into dust.  I went into denial and attempted to make a temporary repair with Bondo.  That stopped the crumbling, but it was only a Band-aid on a problem that I knew was not going away.  Eventually, the utility room door began to follow suit.  I knew it was only a matter of time before the patio doors in the master bedroom got into the act.

The next problem was the front door.  It was not framed correctly from the beginning and the locks did not work exactly right. Gradually the gap between door and frame began to widen, allowing hordes of mosquitoes to make their way inside, where they hovered under my desk and waited for my bare legs to move into range.  My attempt to add weatherstripping was not successful. (A handy gal I am not.)

Finally I could ignore the problem no longer.  I needed new doors.  I also needed to redo the master bath.  I called on a builder friend to come advise me on repairs and remodeling and braced myself to start spending money.

The door problem was rooted in an insufficient gutter arrangement which allowed water to spill over and splash against the doors even in the lightest of rainfall.  We decided to replace all the gutters and replace all the doors.   Today the new doors were installed as the first step in the overall face lift we are giving to the house this summer. 

Before - the family room patio doors. 
After (painting to come later) - brand, spanking new doors
with embedded blinds.  No more tacky curtains hanging from
magnetic curtain rods.
Before - the master bedroom patio doors.
After - another set of doors with blinds.  I love that I can let
in the light or ensure my privacy with a slight flick of a switch.
Before - the utility room door
After - this new door also has the embedded blinds.
I neglected to get a before photo of the front door, but it was a blah expanse of greyish-beige.  I am enormously pleased with the new door that has a semi-circle of glass at the top to not only add a touch of class, but allow some much needed light to come into my dark entry way.

The new door is tight (take that, skeeters!) and the locks fit into place snugly.  I love this new front door.  I'm going to like it even better when I get it painted - if I can ever decide what color I want it to be.

Out with the old!  The pile of hated doors lies waiting
for pickup and hauling off.
It feels good to get one portion of the remodeling project out of the way.  The cats spent the day shut in the upstairs bedroom and the dogs spent the day huddled up against me and shivering when the saw or the nail gun was used.  I tolerated having huge gaping holes in the house much better than I thought I would.  We are all making periodic turns around the house to admire the new arrivals.  Well, I'm admiring.  The cats are sniffing at the new thresholds and the dogs are just thankful the noise has stopped.

Maybe I'll make it through this remodeling phase after all.  I need to just trust the folks that know what they are doing to get it done, make my job keeping the cats and dogs calm, and enjoy the end results.  I am SO glad those nasty old doors are gone.  Ready to tackle the next thing on the list!


Sunday, July 01, 2012

The Shawl Report

The knitting resolution continues on schedule.  Actually I am a little bit ahead of schedule, which I never expected to be able to report.  I figured, as with most resolutions, that by now I would have become bored with knitting and moved onto some other activity leaving my resolution behind without a smattering of guilt.

I am enjoying my current spate of knitting fever.  Mostly I have scarves to show for my 6 months work.  I can be fairly sure that I can start and complete a scarf in the span of a month.  But I like to have larger projects from time to time, so I started two shawls in the background, figuring they would be completed way down the line somewhere.

One of the shawls started off with gusto but came to an abrupt halt about midway when the contrasting yarn I had picked for the lace portion turned out to be the wrong choice.  It is lying in wait until I figure out what I can use instead.

The second shawl was an impulse yarn buy when I saw it hanging on display out at my favorite local yarn store, Yarnorama.  It looked easy enough, the yarn was a sumptuous silk mix, and I cast on in the early days of June, expecting it to be my July or August resolution project.  I spent some of my knitting time in June working on the last of my Fiesta scarf to be sure I had a completed project for the month.

To my surprise, not only did I finish the Fiesta scarf, but the shawl zipped along at a rapid pace and came off the needles yesterday.  Two completed projects for June.  I'm smokin'.

This shawl was mostly a stockinette knit with an easy lacy border and lace inset up the back center.  Most of my lace knitting in the past was with acrylic yarn that does not call for blocking.  This shawl, consisting of natural fiber, would have to be blocked.  

Thankfully I anticipated this possibility when I started my year of knitting and had ordered a set of blocking pads, pins and wires to have on hand.  Finally I had the chance to try them out.  With trepidation, I began the process by dunking my beautiful shawl into a sink of lukewarm water to get it thoroughly wet.

The photo above is the wet shawl before I started stretching it.  Not much signs of lace when you are at this stage.  The edges were curled in and it looked a bit like a wet cat, that is not so pretty.

I began to stretch it out and thread the blocking wires through the lace edging.  It wasn't too long before I realized I probably need a second set of blocking pads if I'm going to keep knitting shawls.  I was pinning the outer edges into the mattress and this wasn't an especially big shawl.  When I had it all pinned down, all there was left to do was wait for it to dry.

I was happy to find it completely air-dried by morning and was pleased to find it was holding its shape when the wires and pins were removed.  Voila!  One shawl with lace edges, looking just as the pattern picture looks.  Ok, the pattern photo doesn't include the stray Dixie hair or Boo drool, but that just adds needed character, right?

Another of my needle art projects this month was to breathe new life into the cross-stitch sampler I purchased in the antique store.  I decided that the quality of the sampler was such that it deserved to have a decent frame.  It started with a cheap blue frame and mat.

Some professional framing later and I have a show piece for my guest bedroom.  Yes the framing cost as much as the sampler, but together they are pretty spectacular.

Now here I sit on the first day of July wondering what I'm going to choose for my next project.  I need to get   busy!