Thursday, July 28, 2016

Wire hair pick/pick comb

A recent self-challenge project:

The handle is made of coat hanger wire, the rest is a slightly thinner wire. I made a simple jig--two screws screwed most of the way into a block of wood--for making evenly-spaced bends. After bending, I used pliers to tighten the curves a bit. I also used a metalworking file to round the ends of the wires. I used sandpaper to grind off some rust; I should have done that step first. It works well enough, although there are some slight modifications I would make on a second try.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Simple hot tub

I actually built this one-person plywood hot tub featured in Mother Earth News, once upon a time. It will fit into some rental bathtubs and showers, but not others. I put it up on two long blocks, to distribute the weight.

The tub is surprisingly comfortable, because of your own buoyancy, and the water stays plenty hot through a good, long bath. Contrast that with the so-called bathtub in our current rental, where you can lie down on the bottom when it is full and still breathe, and the water temperature drops rapidly. (Nine inches of water in the deep end.)

This hot tub is also simple to build, even with only hand tools. I had the lumberyard cut the plywood. I used polyurethane to seal and waterproof it, and I should have used wood filler at the joints, as the polyurethane ran through and didn't fill them very easily.

When I couldn't use it as a hot tub, I used it as a base for my desk top.

I gave it up in the Big Purge, but I plan to build another, later on when I have time to take long baths again.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A pleasant surprise

I finished stripping down the armchair that I am reupholstering, and turned my attention to the seat cushion. I found that inside the cushion cover was a down pillow, and that the fabric that held the down in was in decent condition! Likely to be salvageable after a wash or two in hot water!! I won't have to buy and cut a chunk of foam!!!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Chugging along with the sewing machine

I got my mostly-metal sewing machine back, and have been working on cranking out another set of cloth menstrual pads. It takes me about three or four hours to cut and sew a set, which should last for several years. The fabric is flannel from a handed-down sheet, along with a couple of old dish towels (for inside layers).

I also have several mending projects that have piled up.

After that, I am going to unravel more blanket yarn, for another pair of socks.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Knitted socks from a wool blanket

I found some more yarn for sock an old wool blanket. This blanket came from a rummage sale about ten years ago, cost $2, and actually was only the top half of a blanket.

Before I deconstruct anything vintage, I do a gut check and ask myself if I am doing the right thing. In this case, the answer was yes; I had owned the blanket for about ten years, but I never really used it, although I liked it a lot.

Not every wool blanket can be unraveled; almost all are too fuzzy or too felted. But it worked very well with this particular blanket. The only obstacle was that I had to trim back the warp threads (the ones that run lengthwise) every quarter-inch, otherwise the weft thread was too difficult to pull out. So I could glean at most half of the wool in the blanket. (The rest could have been saved for stuffing something, but I didn't.) The fringe in the photo is the warp threads ready to be trimmed.

For this blanket, I found that there were two weft (crosswise) strands; the weaver must have used two shuttles, throwing one across and back, and then the other one, crossing strands at the edge. Understanding this helped me to unravel longer strands of wool from the blanket. I unraveled as much as I could of each strand, and when it broke (where the edges of the blanket were worn) I wound the strand up into a little ball.

The unraveled strands were kinked, but I used them as they were. The "hand" (yarn texture) felt a bit crisp, but not scratchy. I found that three strands used together knitted up well with the size of needles that I have.

I unraveled just enough to knit up another pair of socks, of the same pattern as before. I still have more than half of the half-blanket left.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Fabric and clothesline rope basket

Finally, a picture of the basket. You can see where the rope is running through the channels that I sewed. On the back side, loops of the rope are exposed and laced together to join the sides. The sides are sewed to a bottom of fabric-wrapped clothesline. The basket collapses to almost flat when empty; only the top half has rope in it.

I chose to sew the channels first, for precision, and run the rope through it later. This required drawing a safety pin attached to a string first, and then using the string to pull the rope through.

Project cost to me was less than two cents, for thread. The other materials were handed down.