Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Willing To Go To Beautiful Lengths

A few years ago, I randomly decided to cut my hair off.  O-F-F, off.  Like, Halle Berry in the 90s off.

While it was GREAT during the super hot & humid months of summer, two winters of polar vortexes pretty much made my neck cold (and thus, the rest of me cold).  I was ready for long(er) hair again.

I started the process of growing it out.  If you've ever gone this short, you'll know that growing it out can be an awkward process.  When it was obvious that it was growing out, and not just been too long between hair cuts, people started asking how long I would go.  Of course, I hadn't though that through...

I had always wanted to donate my hair.  My hair will grow back and not everyone has that option.  But I never waited long enough between BIG cuts to have enough length to do so.  When I wanted a dramatic cut, it seemed like I always had a stylist who wanted me to just take a few inches off and see how I felt about it.  I realize that they do this because they don't want a nearly bald, in-shock woman to hate them and slander them to everyone she meets for a 'terrible' haircut.  So a few inches would come off, and then a few more, and then a few more, and after the fact, I'd realize I could have made someone's day if I had just marched in and said, "I'm donating my hair and I WANT YOU TO CUT IT ALL OFF".  The above haircut happened from below shoulder length, over the course of 6 months, and after I had to change hair dressers to get one who would actually do what I asked.  When I realized I could have donated all that hair, I was bummed.

This time would be different.  I waited and let it grow.  Over 2 years later, I had this:

In about 5 minutes of prep time and a few cuts, I had this:

With the ends pulled straight, that's 17" of hair!

Just in time for upper 80s and summer-in-Ohio humidity, I look like this:

MUCH cooler!
And you can see my little semi-colon now!

That hair is now making its way to Pantene's Beautiful Lengths program and hopefully will bring a little comfort to a woman struggling with cancer.

If you have ever thought about donating, here's a great article highlighting the different donation programs and what they accept/require.
If you can't donate your hair (for whatever reason - even if you just can't tolerate letting your hair get that long!), please consider donating $8 as part of Pantene's #8or8 drive.  Learn more here. Donate here.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Chez Westy - Fireplace Remodel

Remember how dated the fireplace was?

Big block ceramic tile.  a mantle that wasn't even as wide as the tile around the fireplace (that we discovered wasn't mounted properly and shouldn't have been weight-bearing at ALL),... I don't have a closer-up photo, because it was just so bad.

This is after we took down the sketchy mantle and trim, and ripped up the tiles on the floor.
After some investigation, we realized these tiles weren't applied using a mortar or thinset of any sort.  The wall tiles were glued to the drywall using constructive adhesive and then grouted in the joints.  The only way to get those tiles out was to cut the wall and remove that section of drywall.  The floor tiles were glued to a separate piece of plywood, which was relatively easy to pry up, thank goodness.

Out the tiles went.

We won't mention how long the fireplace looked like this.  Don't ask, ok?
New fire-resistant drywall went in.

Then, we sketched out the hearth and trimmed the flooring to accommodate it.

Then, more floor leveler.

Ellie was tired of waiting for the floor leveler to dry, too.
Then, new tiles!!

Next, we determined what type of mantle we would like to put up, where the mantle would be and where the best place to mount the TV would be.

No more TV on the coffee table!
The 2x4 on the wall will be the mount for the mantle.
We found a great DIY mantle guide on the interwebs, and with some help & borrowed tools from my dad, the hubs made a custom mantle.   Once the mantle had been finished, we mounted it and put the final layer of grout and seal on the tile.

We're so happy with how it turned out!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Chez Westy - Half Bath Remodel

The half bath was an easy thing to tackle.  It was small.  Everything had to be pulled out (if only temporarily) when we installed the new floor.  And it was ugly.  It was also the first room we completely finished.

I don't know who decided that using a paint gun to paint the entire house with flat paint the shade of paper bags was a good idea, but all that HAD. TO. GO.  Also, the light fixtures had amber glass and warm bulbs in them.  It was like walking into a cedar chest - and not in a good way.  It was dim, dark, felt confining and small, and very blah.

The bathroom sink looked nice - and we were thinking about keeping it... until we realized that it wasn't leveled properly and water, suds, etc. just sat in the sink or dried there and it always looked scummy.  The only way to fix this was the remove the sink, which meant ripping out the panels around the sink.  Then we found the old water damage in the cabinet (which wasn't installed well in the first place) and the wood was sure to be rotting somewhere underneath (or would if another leak occurred).  We later also found old water damage below the floor in the coat closet that backs up to the bathroom sink wall.

Isn't that gap attractive?
This is the view from the only seat in the room.

In trying to remove the old sink and the very 90s toilet paper holder & towel bar, we found that someone installed them with construction adhesive.  Slathered the ENTIRE FIXTURE with construction adhesive.  Removal meant serious damage to the dry wall.  And no amount of spackle was going to fix that.  We tried.  It just fell back out as it dried.

Solution: Wainscoting.  It was tall enough to cover the damage, it looks fabulous painted purple, if I do say so myself, and this decision helped to tie the kitchen & bathroom together.  Most importantly, it allowed us to have a presentable bathroom without ripping it down to the studs.  I really do not enjoy drywall work.  I'll do it if I have to, but if it can be avoided, I'm all for it.

Updates include: New trim, new towel & toilet paper holders, new light fixture, new sink, new outlets and switches, a bathroom fan that actually sucks, and a new faucet (my favorite thing about this room!).

We were able to reuse this new mirror & I love how it works in here!  If you follow me on Rav, you'll already know that this is my favorite place to take selfies with newly finished objects!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Chez Westy - Dining room/Crafting Area Remodel

This 'dining room' was fraught with issues.  WAY too much light (when the sliding door curtains were open, still squinting at curtains over a sliding door... it's just fussy) and then WAY too dark in the corners.  The 'cherry hardwood' floor was peeling up... good try, realtor dude... the light wasn't in a good place for a table because lots of dead space in the corners, but then shadows if you moved the table away from the light...

We quickly determined that we would use this area as a crafting area for me.  It was on the first floor, so I wouldn't need 12 million trips up and down the stairs to get something to work on or to let the dogs in and out while I am working.

WIP (work in progress): The Home Version

Ripped up the stick-on 'hardwood floor', that was stuck to linoleum, that was glued to underlayment, that was stapled to the subfloor...

New paint colors after the first coat.  I do not regret this purple ONE BIT!

Hubs laying the new floor

The new door was a future project...
until the first heavy rain & we realized the old door was crying along with Mother Nature.

I highly recommend buying a house within 10 minutes of a Lowe's or Home Depot.  We did both.

Cubbies bought on Amazon, assembled by the hubs, filled by me.

Updates include: new LED light fixture with a daylight bulb, new sliding door, new flooring, new trim, new paint, new outlets & switches, new vent covers, new cubby system and a custom shelf made by my dad (nestled under the cutting table).   I found a neat painting that goes with the new wall colors at Home Goods for cheap & dug out these shadowbox shelves from moving boxes that hadn't been opened in many years.  I'm still looking for a good spinning chair, but other than that, this corner is complete!

I commandeered one shelf of our kitchen storage for my knitting books.  They may get moved later, but for now, they are chilling with the cookbooks and the liquor.  They seem content there.

And there's even room for a Christmas tree, to be put up the day after Thanksgiving and taken down promptly at the end of Epiphany.  Because reasons.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Happy Chez Westy-versary!

A year ago, we closed on our first home together.

Home is where LaFonda the Honda is.
It's been quite the journey and it's still not totally where we want it, but we are definitely making progress!  Over the next few weeks, I'll share some posts with pics of what we've accomplished.  Since we still aren't ready to have a housewarming party of any sort... ahem

What's that they say about life happening while you're making other plans?

Friday, April 7, 2017

Donita2017 - Q1 update

Here we are, the end of the first quarter of 2017.   While I've been short on words the last few months, I've not been short on FOs.  I've finished 3 sweaters in 3 months!  It's crazy!

I decided that I really had so many nice sweater quantities of yarn, with so many nice patterns to make them from, but I kept letting smaller projects get started and the sweaters languished.  And this year, that was going to change!

I already told you about my first sweater of the year, which was also the first time I reclaimed yarn from a previous FO and re-worked it into a new garment.  This process was so satisfying!  And I loved the sweater so much, I'm already plotting knitting another one in a neutral color!

February's sweater was my first garment knit from my handspun yarn.  I was excited to use this yarn, I was excited about finding a pattern I thought it would look stellar in, and I was excited/nervous to use my handspun on a garment that hopefully would get a lot of wear.  What if it didn't wear well?  What if my spinning or plying wasn't up to snuff?

Unfortunately, all of those fears were put on the back burner once I got into the knitting.  I've detailed all this on my project page on Ravelry, so I won't go into detail here.

What I will do into detail on is how much I love the finished object!  My handspun is holding up well, there hasn't been much visible wear or pilling (I'm crediting this to the longer staple of the Corriedale), and this sweater has become what I was hoping for: a cardigan I can grab when I'm running out of the house that goes with everything.  It is cozy warm, soft and comforting.  And I'm already plotting the purchase of more of this fiber in the future! (Several thousand yards of spinning in the future, but whatever...)

The chevrons did turn out lovely, though!
Next on my tour of lemonade-out-of-lemons sweaters, I had to find a sweater that would be a good fit for the main color yarn I purchased for this sweater.  I really liked working with the yarn and the sweater practically flew off of the needles.  It was a great knit and I'm really happy with the way the finished sweater turned out. My mods are listed on my project page.  I was a little concerned about changing sizes through the yoke would be tricky on a bottom-up sweater, but this went really well! Ysolda's patterns are so well-written and it makes modifications so much less of a gamble!

I finished a few gifts so far this year, too!

A tablet rest that looks creepily like anatomy until it's fully assembled (check the photos snerk) and a stripey cowl for a swap package:

A hat with a ridiculously large pompom to complete a baby gift for an expectant mother/knitting friend:

and a late Christmas gift for a friend who loves frogs and all things green, out of cheery green handspun:

After knitting a few cowls for others lately, I decided I needed one for myself.

And this gorgeous yarn didn't bleed a bit!!  Shout out, Forbidden Woolery!!!
I finished one pair of socks for myself, but I tried a new heel (which I really like the fit of!).  Said new heel threw off my usual measurements and I'm in the process of ripping the toes back and shortening them a bit to finish them.  But they look nice!

The other new thing that happened this quarter?  Our Squish sent me a loom!? I'm still not sure how it happened, but this pretty thing appeared at my house and so I decided to try my hand at weaving.

I don't really know what I'm doing, but I checked out books from the library, figured out how to warp the loom (whose name is Bubbeh, btw), and managed this, with some help from Nancy at the guild:

I've done two towels out of kitchen cotton that I've had for... well, longer than the hubs and I have been married... Regardless, now they are towels.  Nothing fancy, just plain weave with some fringe.  I need to figure out my selvedges, but... I made fabric in a different way!  That's fun!  And it's calming, once you figure out how to get going.

I finished one braid of spinning this quarter:

And as for my loved bullet points:

  • Spin for more large projects
    Not yet - but soon!
  • Sew
    *cricket, cricket*
  • Knit more sweaters & socks
    On track!
  • Knit an afghan or 2
    I started a blanket... 
  • Learn brioche knitting
    Weaving, brioche... it's the same right?  Weaving may be my new skill this year.  Sorry brioche.  I know you're hot right now, but I'm never really 'hot right now'.
  • Knit from:
    stash - check! everything from this page is from stash at least 6 months old  (or older...)
    queue - check!
    handspun - check!
  • 20K in finished projects again!
    On track with over 6K complete!