Saturday, October 24, 2015

No Beading Here

Things I learned today:

  1. Just because the thought of using the heat gun and scraper tool almost make you cry (let's be honest: the heat gun is cool; the scraper tool is pure evil) it doesn't mean you don't need to use them anyway.  Even if you already put them away.
  2. Glue likes plywood better than it likes the underneath of sheet vinyl and it's sneaky.
  3. Just because you can't see glue on the plywood underlayment doesn't mean it's not there.
  4. You can't sand invisible glue off.
  5. If you try to sand invisible glue, the plywood gets weird gummy smears from nowhere and the sanding disk gets completely ruined with hard gummy deposits.
  6. If you try to remove the hard gummy things from the sanding disk, you will shape your nails in unintended configurations.

I honestly thought I'd sand the floor first thing in the morning and then glue the cork down in the afternoon and I still think the sticking down part will be fairly quick - if ever I get there.

Until I discovered the invisible glue, I couldn't understand why I couldn't get the floor smooth, and what all those little gummy granules were and why I couldn't vacuum them up.

Sunday, October 18, 2015


No, no, no - it's nothing embarrassing or awkwardly intimate or weird medical stuff or anything like that: it's floors. Specifically, sheet vinyl kitchen floors and the removal thereof.

(If you were looking for beading stuff, scroll down to the bottom. There's a little).

My big project is my kitchen. It's big for me, but in truth most of the changes will be cosmetic.

I needed to trim the door of the pullout trashcan thing I made.
 Whoops! Now I know what they mean when they say you can't use a jig-saw like that (with a guide that you rest the thing against). I actually do better just cutting freehand as I have a decently steady hand and eye, but oh well, too late. Guess I need a new drawer front.
 So this table had two very ugly laminate legs which I replaced with a single Y-shaped leg made from pipes. Apart from the way it looks (which I vastly prefer) it's also configured so that the stalls can now fit underneath the counter all the way instead of bumping into the legs.

The current huge sub-project in the kitchen is the floor.

It's a nasty cream sheet vinyl floor with faux tiles that reeks of the nineties and which I'm planning to replace with cork. Yes, "replace", not "cover".

Last weekend I started with the removal. My friends Google and Pinterest led me to believe that if you saturate the papery backing with a solution of detergent and warm water, the glue and paper will just magically come away from whatever it's attached to with just a smidgen of scraping.

Not so.

It took me TWO HOURS and a lot of muscle last weekend to remove a couple of square feet at which I suddenly panicked and wondered how old the floor was and if it contained asbestos. Then I read all about mesothelioma and panicked some more.

Fortunately my basement had a leftover piece with the manufacturer name and serial (or whatever) number and collection name (Memories - honestly I'd rather forget) and so I called them and they assured me that it was made in 1997 and per the website they stopped manufacturing sheet vinyl with asbestos in 1983 so I'm safe from that at least.

The tide-and-water thing was making me depressed so I went and bought a heat gun for the glue removal, still figuring that wetting the paper backing (the vinyl top layer peels right off. It's pretty thin. No wonder my floor was looking so cruddy) would help the glue removal go faster.
 It sort of did, but it was exhausting and too aerobic and blister-forming and back-breaking and besides when you saturate the paper it's hard not to saturate the plywood underlayment and when you have soft wood it's hard not to scrape up gobs of wood which will later need to be filled and smoothed so that my new floor isn't lumpy.
 This is where I was last night. Perhaps a third of the way through.

I should state that my intention was to have it all off by the end of this weekend so that I could lay the cork next weekend, but at the rate of about five square feet an hour I realised that I needed to adjust my goals after adjusting them last weekend via my asbestos-inducing panic (which may have had an upside in terms of professional asbestos abatement but I suppose that given the absence of asbestos I could throw thousands of dollars at a regular contractor and not only would they remove the vinyl and underlayment, but pretty much do almost everything in the kitchen that I'm planning to do myself so there's that).

And with the state of my hands and my back I needed to adjust my technique.
 So this is what it looks like when I don't bother with the Tide-and-tea (which by the way is the perfect fast way to extremely rough hands, if ever you need such a thing) and instead just use the heat gun.

I tear the vinyl off an area I can clean in an hour (a widthwise strip of faux tiles), and then  methodically scrape up parallel strips of paper-and-glue. I'm sadly not very ambidextrous when it comes to finding the sweet spot of pressure, angle of the scraper and speed of scraping so my right hand feels liked it's still locked in a death grip around the handle of the scraper tool.

I scrape for an hour and rest for half an hour so by the end of the second day of scraping I'm left with probably six hours of scraping.
And that's completely ignoring the floor of the pantry, the bit under the dishwasher, and the part under the drawer under the stove which I'm pretty sure will be really gross and disgusting because you can only clean under a drawer if you remove it and no one removes drawers unless they have to, do they?

I may not get to the cork next weekend.

I have been making shoelaces though.
 These ones were going to be something else but I didn't like the way they were turning out, so I flipped a few cards, twisted a few and changed the forward/backward count and I really like these a lot now.
 These ones less so. I prefer the crispness of the diagonal patterns. This is bold, but it's not really doing anything.
And these would be a lot better if the contrast was more extreme. 

I'm still feeling my way with the card-weaving so I don't really mind repeating patterns or their variations. I'm also not sure that I want to be bothered with patterns where you have to periodically flip the twist on cards, or twist some forwards while others go backwards, or where the twisting isn't symmetric and the twist builds up and is irksome.

Early days yet in my tablet-weaving world.

So I made this for last Tuesday's class. I'd already made one using the same bead studs, so I tried to choose completely different accents instead of sticking to the same area of the colour wheel and I think it works.
I like it well enough that there's a kumihimo rope in process.

I also made this for the class in a week or two.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015


First off, my new toy:
 My brother gave me an iPhone back when there was only the first one and he convinced me that it was the best idea to jailbreak it and all was well and good until there was a firmware upgrade that bricked it. Google is my friend and helped me unbrick it but then as if by magic it happened again and all the friends in the world couldn't unbrick it so I've had a stupid phone since then (kids in college equals expenses) but now that's done so I have a sweet new toy.
 This past weekend was going to be full, I tell you full of things I managed to complete but I'm always unrealistically optimistic about the number of things I can fit into the number of available hours so it didn't one hundred percent work out to say the least.

For instance, I didn't even begin removing the existing kitchen floor.
 I put pipes together and painted them. You can see the paper towel holder in the front, and part of the table leg (upside down) behind it.
 I stained the wood for my sweater bench which would have been more finished about a month ago if only my design hadn't been slightly deficient leaving it vaguely finished: enough to be used but not enough to be even slightly rough with it.
 Dowels for the cross-bars got stained too.
 I hauled out the one and only length of cloth I've ever woven (funny story: it was so successful that I sold my table loom and bought a floor loom which I owned for at least ten years and NEVER WARPED and so I sold it) which I thought might make a very nice cover for the cushion on my sweater bench and it would, if only it were wider and longer.
There's the sweater bench sans cushion. A little more sturdy than Version 1.0, but still needs a few minor touches to be acceptable. Luckily I have a still fairly new jig-saw which can help with the finishing touches to make the bench a bit sturdier.
 The primary cat helped with the assembly and positioning of the table leg. Now if only she'd cut a couple of circles of thinnish wood to shim the gap between the underneath of the countertop and the leg I'd be happy and I could remove those hideous formica-covered excuses for legs which are so poorly-conceived in so many ways that it's surprising how patient I've been with them.

Number one: uuuugly.

Number two: not fixed to the floor so they're rarely perfectly vertical.

Number three: you can't push the stools all the way under the counter.

Number four: they're where you want your knees to be when you sit at the counter.
Oh yeah and I made a long thing which is going to be a pair of shoelaces.

I made aiglets (by which auto-correct assumed I meant "piglets"; now that would be a fine trick) for the first pair of shoelaces but they're black and don't look very nice, so I'm waiting on some clear shrink tubing for this next pair.

I confess that I paid minimal attention to the explanations of twist and direction for card weaving because it wasn't applicable to the shoelaces I made at camp, and when I came to thread up for another pair, another pattern, it took me a few minutes to figure out why it wasn't working. The first few inches are a lovely (no, I'm not being facetious: I do think it's quite charming) medley of patterns until I figured out what I liked and then it went quite fast.

I'm a couple of feet shy of finishing the next pair of shoelaces.

It's more fun than beaded kumihimo because I can see it happening before my eyes as I weave, rather than underneath the foam disk as I braid. If only they could make crystal-clear foam braiding disks the kumihimo would be a lot more fun but they don't so there you are.

Pity the card weaving is a little hard on the thumbs the way I do it (ambidextrously for speed and efficiency).

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Yes, I Know

I did mention that I came home with The Crud, didn't I?

It was the long-lasting though not so terribly dreadful Crud as it turns out, and when I get a cold, I don't sleep and when I don't sleep my back and neck get stiff and it's that which makes me grumpy, not so much the sniffles.

Oh yes, and when I came back with The Crud That Stayed, I had things to do, things I'd committed to before I left and all I wanted to do was not do the things I had to do, so I had a largely miserable week, and then I had twenty-seven plans for the weekend (not my usual choice; oh and I may be exaggerating) so almost at the end of the next week I'm feeling partially human again.

I've been getting back to doing stuff I want to do.

Many years ago my father made me an inkle loom. It worked, but it wasn't the best and I didn't use it for years and so I sold it and I sort of regret it and had been looking at inkle looms before I went on vacation. Then I made the shoelaces (which wasn't inkle weaving, but could be done on an inkle loom) and it seemed like a fun thing I might actually want to do again so I bought an inkle loom.
 And started on a pair of shoelaces. Probably for a nephew of sorts.
I'm pretty well equipped with materials for quite a few more shoelaces, so I hope the nieces and nephews like them.

I made some ridiculously long earrings.
 With a matching bracelet.
 I finished off a kumihimo necklace. I swear, I could make two necklaces a week using lamp work beads in my stash and it would take a very long time before I'd run out. I may need to rethink this strategy for using them up.
 On vacation I did some spinning, but not after I plied stuff that was on the bobbin. No clue what this was. Some sort of chop suey yarn (you know, odds and end from the fridge all blended together nicely).
 This is the yak and silk I dyed at camp last year as roving. It wasn't a thorough blend so it was really unpleasant to spin because the silk clumped up but I think it turned out gorgeous. I'm not sure if I wish there was more of it (so I could knit something substantial with it) because then I'd have had to endure the not entirely enjoyable experience of spinning it but then I'd be crazy smug, though I probably wouldn't have finished it by now so let's just say I'm perfectly happy with the amount I have.
Yah, we should all have such hard choices.