Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The best scarf is a finished scarf

2014 was a year of new beginnings for me. New house, new job, new state, new friends. But, I have a confession to make: With the exception of my dissertation (which to be fair, is sort of a big deal) I have not finished anything in almost a year. I can't remember the last time I finished a book, or a knitting project, or frankly, even a full-length movie. No, in 2014 I have just been starting messes without any intention of finishing them, which means my craft room, my bookshelf, and my psyche are kind of in various states of disarray.

Thinking about it now, finishing things would have been a terrific new years resolution. But I resolved, instead, raise more hell in Madison and Milwaukee (certainly a more realistic resolution, right?) The good news is that even though it wasn't my resolution, I'm getting the year off to a good start.

I finished something.

I started this white wool "blanket scarf" back in December when Old Navy had a rack of scarves on sale and I couldn't really justify buying one. Instead, I bought two skeins of Fisherman's Wool in white and a size 8 circular needle before getting on the plane for CA to defend my dissertation.

Unfortunately, I got distracted on the plane and messed up pretty abysmlly in a couple of ways.

1) I couldn't decide if I wanted to do a seed stitch or a basketweave, so I decided to aim for the middle. So, I worked one round in a K2,P2 pattern, and the next round just the opposite. The result is not particularly attractive.

2) I twisted my stitches when I was joining the round, twice. So, this isn't just your standard mobius scarf, it's a twisted mess.

Now, my friend Sarah at the fabric store would have said that I should rip it all out and start over. She'd say that the best knitting generally has to happen twice. But, I haven't finished a damn thing in a year. So, it's funky, but warm. And frankly, the best scarf is a finished scarf.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Budget Basement Bathroom Face-lift

When I was house shopping in Whitewater I saw a lot of really, really gross basement bathrooms. Soggy floors, half finished walls, toilets next to washer/dryers. So, in comparison, the bathroom the basement of my little house was actually not so bad.
Someone had done a bad job caulking around the relatively new shower, which created an issue with the drywall, the toilet hadn't been cleaned in years, there was a little mold growing on the door and, of course, like every other room in the entire house, it was brown. After a summer without a dehumidifier in my basement, even though the bathroom wasn't being used, by February the mold situation had gotten a bit worse and I was trying to throw a party in the basement. I couldn't very well have guests using the bathroom looking like this.
I started with the mold situation. I mixed up about 1 cup borax to one hot gallon of water in the bathroom sink and brushed the walls and door down with the mixture to remove and kill any mold.
When the walls were dry, I picked away the broken/damaged plaster and identified the shower leak. With dad's instruction via phone, I wiped down the poorly caulked seams with "rubbing alcohol" (read, nail polish remover, I knew where it was) and gave both edges of the shower a fresh coat of caulking on the inside and outside.

I bought some pre-mixed mud for patching and filled in the holes as best I could. While I was at it, I took down the sad and kind of moldy medicine chest that was hang from the wall by two rusty screws and a soggy piece of heavy-duty cardboard.
Once the patches were dry, I invested in a gallon of really serious mold-resistant primer (KILZ Premium) and coated every inch of the bathroom: walls, ceiling, edges, trim, baseboard, all of it. White was a big improvement over brown, I'll say, and worked great for the ceiling and trim, but I wanted something a little more exciting for the wall color. Unfortunately, the sky was dumping snow on Whitewater and I had to teach all week. So, rather than go pick out a new color, I grabbed the remaining half gallon of Abloom by EasyCare (which I'm sure the next owners will lament as I lament the brown) and gave the whole thing a quick coat.

Rather than rehang the the moldy medicine cabinet, since no one lives in the basement, I just hung a mirror I already had kicking around (painted in college when I went through a yellow/hot pink phase), found the bathmat, towels, and art from my old bathroom in CA, and called it a day.

For about $30, I would call this a major improvement.