Things here at String Central are about to be totally up-ended. We’ve now lived in the New House for about 10 years, which makes it not so new any more. In truth it hasn’t been new for quite a while, having been built in 1911 or so.
When we bought it we looked around and fell in love with the place. Some parts more than others: the large, open layout, the abundance of surviving original woodwork and detail, the high coffered ceilings in the living and dining rooms, having a tiny library(!) plus sufficient space for all of the bedrooms, office areas, and workrooms a family with a wide variety of solitary pursuit interests needs.
On the problem areas, we’ve gone through a long list of improvements over the years, most having to do with systems: heat, insulation, wiring; or structure. New plumbing, a full-house rewire to get rid of (barely) functioning knob-and-tube, secure/weather-tight basement windows, a new heating system with a separate upstairs heat zone, insulation, a new roof, and a new driveway are just a few. Other than rehabbing the poorly functional upstairs bath, we haven’t done much in the way of aesthetics or livability, beyond addressing basic needs.
But no longer.
After 10 years we are about to begin a major kitchen rehab, and FINALLY be rid of the sagging mint Formica countertops, the droopy cabinets, the dismally scratched (and hideously pink) floor tile, plastic sheet backsplashes; and the outdated, poor functionality of our layout. I can hardly wait!
Here’s the official set of Before Pictures:
In the shots above you can see the partial wall between the prep and dinette areas, that breaks up the space without adding value. They are remnants of what had originally been a full wall, separating a back day-room for maid’s work from the kitchen proper. This is now our eat-in area and will remain so, but the partial wall is going.
In this one you can see the patched- in wasted space above the cabinets in between them and the equally useless dropped soffits above the cabinets themselves. That overhead space will be put to far better use.
And here are the mint green counters and plastic backsplash of the inconveniently far from everything Other Counter. It’s the clutter-magnet area where we stash recycling, and although absent in this shot, where pantry overflow usually sits. This space will also no longer sit idle.
Although we do have an pantry, it is of very little use, with narrow shelves too shallow to accommodate most cans, boxes, or jars. The front part is a hinged armature that is very difficult to move if you want to access similarly shallow dead shelf space behind. We are in sore need of effective pantry space. The new design will address this, too.
The rusted, creaky round-abouts (lazy susans) are an invitation for stuff to fall behind and jam the mechanism, with center poles that preclude larger items. The gadget garage isn’t bad, but tends to be another clutter-magnet area, and uses up more useful space than it provides in return. Technology for corner cabinetry has vastly improved since the ‘80s. I’m looking forward to the new solution.
On overall design, the current kitchen/dinette area, although it looks large, is not wide enough to add an island or peninsula without serious bottleneck or access issues, so we are not going to radically change the footprint. However, the current arrangement of appliances and countertops isn’t very efficient. We end up doing 90% of our prep work in the two foot space between the sink and the stove. The stove itself does not have a vent to the outside, which doesn’t add to ease of keeping the room clean. And the kitchen is dark, with too many lights that don’t manage to provide illumination of the actual work areas.
So it’s time for all of it to go.
In the mean time, we’ve moved out of the kitchen, so the crew can come in tomorrow to start demolition. We’ve crammed everything into the living and dining rooms, and will live without stove, oven or microwave, dishwasher or useful kitchen sink for the time being:
We plan to address all of these issues. Stay tuned to see how!
For my knitting and stitching pals – don’t worry. This isn’t going to turn into a home-improvement blog. I continue to plug away on the wavy infinity scarf/cowl, plus progress on a pair of socks. I always have a pair going, as “briefcase knitting” to do while waiting for appointments, on line, or in other away-from-home-base moments of idleness.
It’s slow going. As I’ve said before, I spend as much time untangling as I do knitting. And I still need to pay attention to the pattern. I haven’t memorized the thing yet. So it’s difficult to do when I’m watching TV in the evenings – my favorite time to do handwork. Especially so because we’re re-watching our set of Lone Wolf and Cub TV series DVDs, which are in Japanese with subtitles, and on Netflix, the Norwegian series, Occupied, similarly subtitled from Norwegian.
So there you have it. Chaos is about to descend. But at least I can knit my way through it, while nibbling sandwiches in the dining room.
I’m still plugging away on the Mixed Wave pattern scarf for Elder Daughter: It’s based on a cowl pattern of the same name.
Now, why has it taken me two full rip-back and start again cycles on this one? Mostly because I can’t resisting tweaking here and there when I work from a pattern.
In this case, the recipient and I decided that a narrower piece was more desirable for wear with the target coat. So I removed a ten-stitch unit. Then we jointly decided that instead of two contrasting colors, we wanted to use three, in combo with our neutral color (black). It’s hard to see here, but I’ve got a cranberry red, a maroon, and a variegated that ranges from cranberry through maroon, with shots of turmeric here and there. After that it was the traditional matter of Not Paying Attention, forgetting to move counting markers, and getting incredibly tangled from all of the flipping as the short row segments (the almond shapes) are formed*. And let’s not forget the last forgetting – neglecting to make sure that stitch count was stable after every left and right edge segment pair.
But I’ve got it well in hand now. I’m even beginning to remember to alternate left and right leaning almonds, along with choosing which segment to work as an almond, cycling through the colors, and remembering to work the row-beginning decreases and row-ending increases that give the piece its rhomboid slant.
I will continue on this piece, making it a bit longer than the original, and eventually either graft it into a true infinity scarf, or finish it off as a straight scarf with pointed ends. We’ll see how my well my composure handles the all-too-frequent stopping to untangle.
* Yes, I know the trick of always flipping clockwise on front side and counter-clockwise on wrong side rows of the short row sequence. It isn’t helping.
Here it is, totally finished, and with a vaguely decent picture (but as yet, unsigned and un-mounted).
The recipient is thrilled, which is always gratifying.
UPDATE: People want the specs on this piece so they don’t have to hunt through previous posts. 30 count evenweave linen ground, stitched over two threads (15 spi). The 6-strand floss is man-made “silk”, rayon actually; a vintage find brought back from India, slightly thinner than standard DMC floss. I stitched all of the foreground using two strands. Some of the background I did in single strand for contrast. Pattern strips with one exception are all from my forthcoming book The Second Carolingian Modelbook. The alphabet is from a vintage Sajou booklet #104 reproduced at Patternmakercharts.blogspot.com. I hemmed my linen by hand before starting.
The reason I haven’t done the last teeny bits is that I’m trying to finish off some end-of-year gifts for the spawn.
First up and already done was the new pair of Susie Rogers’ Reading Mitts, done in a sparkly yarn for Younger Daughter. She’s a fan of the surreal Welcome to Night Vale podcasts. One of their taglines is “Mostly void, partially stars.”
To get the partially-stars look, I used Loops and Threads Payette – an acrylic with a running lurex thread and small paillettes (flat sequins). Both inspiration and enablement are courtesy of Long Time Needlework Pal Kathryn, who sent this stuff to me. Just seeing it sparkling at me kicked off this project. Kathryn’s initial intent was to knit socks from the Payette, but that effort was a no-go. And rightly so. The stuff is not fun to work with, and would make supremely uncomfortable socks. The base black yarn is waxy feeling. The lurex thread breaks easily and is scratchy, and the paillettes can make stitch formation difficult – especially on decreases. Oh, and forget about ripping this stuff back. The lurex snaps. But the look can’t be beat, especially for a big-box-store available yarn.
Yarn aside, this project is a great quick-knit. Both mitts together took two evenings. I used the Payette doubled, and knit the smallest size, which fits perfectly. The only change I made to the original design is eliminating the bulk of cast-on and cast-off. To begin, I work a figure-8 or provisional cast-on. When I get to the last row before the cuff welt, I reactivate the bottom stitches and fold them up, knitting one bottom edge stitch along with its live pre-cuff counterpart. This melds the bottom into the work, and eliminates the final bit of sewing up, and cuts down on pre-cuff bulk.
To cast-off, instead of making a finished edge and then sewing it down, I leave a long tail and fold the live edge inside the work. Then I use that to secure each last-row stitch to its counterpart in the first row after the fancy welting on the upper edge.
Final verdict – the kid loves these. The original design’s pretty welt and eyelet detail is lost in the sequined look and it’s over the top sparkly. But it fits in perfectly with the Nightvale-inspired theme.
Next on the needles is a new scarf for Elder Daughter. As I mentioned in the last post, I’m enchanted by Sybil R’s designs and was determined to make one or another of them. At first we contemplated a different scarf, but rummaging through my stash, we came up with yarn better suited to her Mixed Wave Cowl, an exercise in nested short row enhanced stripes. Here you see the bare beginnings of mine:
I’m using an eclectic mix of well-aged stash denizens, plus a more recent variegated yarn seen here in a rather blue-shifted photo. The black and russet are both Lang Jawoll bought who-knows-when. The claret (again not as purple as it looks here) is Froehlich Wolle Special Blauband, which I’m pretty sure I had when we moved back to Boston in ‘95. The variegated scarf thingy is Regia Creativ one of the unravel-me-and-knit dyed strips, in a mix of autumn colors including chocolate, russet, claret, and burnt orange. The pattern is written for DK, on rather small 3.5mm needles. I’m using fingering-weight sock yarn on 3.0mm needles, which is making a slightly looser fabric.
More on this one as it grows…