Hmmm. As I was writing today’s entry, I wanted to refer back to a post I remembered writing back in June of 2004. Apparently not all of the posts for that month imported correctly when we transferred our archives over. So the posts you’ll see today are hand-carried ports of the AWOL material. Apologies for the deja vu. True new content tomorrow. I promise.
Material originally appearing on June 15, 2004.
BINGO BUNGALOW, FILET KNITTING
Excuse this shortened entry. I’m deeply enmeshed in home rehab, and haven’t had much time to do anything else. Yesterday I measured the entire house so I can draft up a set of dimensioned drawings. That will help us figure out where to put things. While I was doing that I attempted to take some snaps of the house’s more nifty features. I’m a lousy photographer, so I’ve only got a couple.
First the house is a stucco bungalow, built in 1912. That style is pretty unusual for this part of Massachusetts. The majority of older homes in this town are Victorians of various configurations, Dutch colonials built in the 1920s, and saltbox Capes built in the 1930s. In between and in pockets are some older houses dating back to the 1700s and early 1800s, and some post WWII neighborhoods of ranches and raised ranches. The place is fairly big – not as huge as a rambling Victorian, but pretty big compared to the tiny 6-room ranch we’re leaving.
The house has had only two prior owners – the family that built it, and the family we bought it from. It’s been largely left alone, with very little tinkering over the years. That means that we’ve gotten some features you rarely find. Like original lighting fixtures in three rooms (this is the biggest one in the living room):
Another amazing bit of preservation is the downstairs bath. Except for the butterfly handles on the sink and an innocuous replacement toilet, it’s untouched, with all tile, fixtures, and stained glass window original and intact (the little sitz tub is especially nifty, it’s an exact match of its big brother on the other side of the room):
And here’s the smaller of the two fireplaces. This one is in the den:
As you can see, all of the woodwork on the first floor of the house has never been overpainted. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the entire house is still using the original electrical wiring – the old bare wire on insulator stuff put in when the house was first built. That means there is one plug per room; nothing grounded anywhere in the place; and anemic service. Over the next month we are having a contractor completely rewire the house. I’ll be putting in sweat equity, too – mostly ripping out improperly installed fiberglass insulation that’s making the roof rot, and encouraging the growth of a truly spectacular mildew farm in the attic. Meaning the insulation is doing the encouraging. I’ll be doing the exterminating.
I did have time to start playing with this last night. The Thomas method is daunting to look at in description, but once you start messing with it it’s pretty straightforward. Solid blocks are composed three knit stitches. Open blocks are done similar to a one-row buttonhole, starting with a double yarn over. Then two stitches are bound off by passing existing loops over and off the end of the needle. The last stitch remaining is then knit to finish out the block of three. Alternate rows are knitted back, with the second YOs purled to make a garter stitch base.
But here’s the kicker. To make the solid areas appear square, each block on the chart corresponds to FOUR rows of knitting. That’s two right side rows and two wrong side rows. This means that there’s an extra horizontal bar (aka bride) in the center of each block compared to filet crochet or darned net That makes the open areas far less open, and rather compromises the look – especially for very complex charts. Clearly, more work on this will need to be done as I don’t think this particular technique, even were I to work with tatting cotton on 000s, would look good for my chart.
I’m not giving up though. Tonight’s round of experimentation will include adding height to the solid blocks by Yoda-knitting them back and forth. Working each block as a tiny 3-stitch short-row should square off the units. More news tomorrow…
PS: If you see spurious question marks in these entries, please ignore them. It’s not that I’m more puzzled than normal. For some reason, as of this morning every double space in every has morphed into a question mark. I’ll investigate.
Not that you need to hear this, but be carefull of inhalation while you are ripping out stuff. Along with fibers from the insulation, there may be ‘germs’ from creatures that have lived in there. BTW, great fixtures, etc in the house. Too many times you find a good old house with cheap new fixtures
Yup. You’re right. In a previous career I worked for an architectural antiquarian. I often came across long-closed stale and musty spaces that had bred their own ecosystems. I’ve got the drill down. Cotton hoodie with long sleeves, goggles, level 2 dust mask or breather, work gloves, bandanna to keep dust out of the neck. I’ve already done several twice-daily treatments of the most mildewed areas with diluted bleach solution. Breathabilty in those closed spaces has improved immensely. -K.