Round Peg In a Square Hole-crafts

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Cubic Closest Packing, as Applied to Storage Units

I keep threatening to show pix of my storage unit, to brag about how efficiently I've used the space. Well, today is the day!

My main interest was to pack as much stuff into the 5' by 10' space as humanly possible while still having everything remain accessible. Clearly, those are diametrically opposed ideas, but I fancy that I have found a good compromise. Also, I have both costume pieces (including hats and props) and fabric (cut and uncut, and some on bolts) as well as trim, patterns, and shoes and other accessories to store all together, which made things more difficult.

After much heartburn and lots of puzzling, I set up 5 shelving units in the space: two 18" by 4' on the left, as you walk in, and three 16" by 3' foot on the right. This left a corridor about 2 ft wide down the center, and a 18"space between the two long shelf units on the left. (I know that the math would indicate a similar, smaller gap on the right; however, in actual fact, I had to work to get all three shelving units in. Either the storage unit is smaller than advertised, or the shelf unit is larger than the box said, or both. Sadly, I always forget to take a measuring tape with me.....) It also allowed me to somewhat standardize my storage by using empty copier paper boxes to store stuff in. These boxes have the advantage of being sturdy and having good tops, allowing them to be stacked. In fact, I stacked them in the space between the shelf units on the left, all the way to the top of the racks. The bottom ones aren't as accessible as those on the shelves, but nothing's perfect, and I couldn't see that space go to waste. There is enough room between the tops of these boxes and the bottoms of the shelves above so that I can slide shoe boxes in on top, maximizing the space usage. I also put a small galvanized steel trash can all the way at the back of the unit, to store rolls of fabric, as well as parasols, swords, etc. Then, lastly, I put two rolling garment racks into the corridor, which are easily rolled out into the hallway when I need to access the shelves.

One thing I hadn't counted on, but was just a very useful accident, was that the shelves are sturdy and very close together, allowing me to use them as a ladder, to more easily reach the top shelves, and the boxes stacked three high up there. Not easy to do when I'm in a narrow skirt and heels, if I stop off before or after work, but definitely doable, and readily so when in jeans and tennies.

So, now you have some idea of the layout, let's get to the pictures. This is the sight that greets you when you open the door:

first rack. You'll note, there is a little space available, right in the front, say an 18" square footprint. I do have plans for this space: I'm looking for a tall, narrow chest of drawers, the kind you usually see sold for bedrooms, Goddess only knows why. If I put that on a small dolly, I'll be able to keep the stuff I use most often in it: corsets, gloves, purses, fans, snoods, shawls and scarves, those sorts of things. Those things currently live in boxes on the shelves, so that would free up the space there for some of the stuff that is still back at the house.

Moving the first garment rack out, you see this:

second rack

Moving that rack out, you can now see the back of the unit, with the trash can:
from the door You begin to get a feel for just how claustrophobic it can be, with those 6 ft tall shelf units on either side, and the top shelf of each stacked to the roof of the unit:
top shelf, back lefthat boxes BTW, that pink blob near the top of the second picture is the fanny of a stuffed pink standard-size poodle, which has wheels on it's feet so that it can be pushed along on a stiff leash. This was made to go with my rendition of an Erte drawing, Symphony in Black. Me, being me, had to add my own twist to it, so I made it all in pink, and the pink seemed to demand a poodle, rather than the racing hound of the original. The enormous muff that goes with it is just visible in the third picture, a little above and to the left of the black and white striped hat box. (Don't know why I thought you needed to know that, especially since I don't have a pic of the poodle or the muff.....)

The view from the back of the unit gives you a different perspective:

from the back but any way you look at it, there ain't much space left. There are times when I pull a box off the shelves and have to back out with the box in the same orientation, as there is insufficient room to rotate the box in the isle. However, I am able to get at nearly everything fairly quickly; only those things on the bottom of a 3-tier of boxes on the top shelf, or far down in the one stack between the two left units requires a lot of work. And, I will admit, since I have several non-standard boxes, there are a few where I need to take a middle box out when I want an end box, because the end box is trapped by the L-shaped corner post of the shelf unit. Fortunately, this is somewhat self-correcting: less-frequently-used boxes tend to be sorted into the less-accessible spots. So, all in all, I'm pleased with the result and find it pretty workable. Obviously not nearly as good as having it all stored at home, but an acceptable compromise.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Sock Madness 2--Made it to Round 2!

The first round of Sock Madness 2 had a lovely sock called Zombies. It's a ribbed pattern, which means it goes slower than a stockinette (which was what the first pattern was last year), but I managed to finish faster in absolute terms (Sunday night this year vs. Monday lunch last year, both with a Thursday release), though I think I spent more actual knitting time on these. (I cheated, somewhat, by taking Friday off.) There were lots of hints at the last minute about it being a "scary" sock, but I went ahead with the yarn I had originally picked for this sock anyway. I like the result better than I was afraid I would, but not as much as I wanted to. Though I will admit that when I was finally done, had taken the picture, uploaded it, sent the required, qualifying email, I looked down at my feet and said, "Huh, those are quite nice, all in all." So, I would say that's a good thing. And despite being in the fastest division, I made it in to the next round, so yeah me! My goal this year is to make it further than I did last year; since I got knocked out in round 2 last year, I submit that this is a modest enough goal. Stay tuned to see if I can acheive it!

On to other projects!

Rainbow legwarmers: I tried taking the color out of this "red" yarn that ended up mauve, using all the suggestions I got from folks: baking soda, Oxyclean, and bleach--nothing worked. Will try overdying it later, but I think I have to admit that I blew it, and buy some more yarn to get the red I need. In the meantime, I started on the leg warmers, but since I can't finish them until I reorder the yarn, etc., other things have edged it lower down in the queue.

One of those "other things" are these socks from I'm using Knit Picks Gloss in Concord Grape to make them, and have only just started them, but they will give me something to keep me limber between SM2 rounds.

What has really become number-1-with-a-bullet is the ski suit for Barbie: sweater, ski pants, and hat. My daughter informed me the other day that I promised to make these for Babs, and Oh, by the way, Bab's birthday is on Easter. You know, less than 5 days away? I cast on this morning, but forgot to bring them with me to work tonight, so we'll have to see how much gets done before Sunday. Along with work. And sleep. And driving to Grandma's house on Friday (with me driving, so no knitting time, dang it!). Gauuggh! I told her I would try.

On to some older stuff: (Drum-roll, please) I have FINISHED THE TEA COZIES! I have! The last two are done! Both of these definitely fall into the feral category. The green one is my second try at that pattern; I finished a full version in a much heavier weight yarn, which meant many fewer rows of ruffles which looked STUPID! Gave that one away to someone who actually liked it (Goddess bless Ravelry!) and started again with fingering weight, after first spending too much money buying laceweight that I later realized wouldn't do. The final result is quite nice, and were I to do it again, it would go much faster and easier this time, but I doubt I will make the effort. Not the pattern's fault, just a little too much PTSD around the whole project. But it's done, done, done!

The pink one is even more so: I have tried no fewer than three yarns and at least 4 different needle sizes. I also tinkered a little with the pattern, but really like the final result; only I realized after I had given this to it's recipient that she had said "any color pink EXCEPT dusty". Ooops. May make her another in some other pink, now that I know how.....

My daughter also recently requested an evening gown for Thumbelina, a 3" doll that she got several years ago at Micky D's. Not sure that a gold metallic evening gown with a split up the side is appropriate for a little girl doll, but then, I wore some pretty inappropriate things when I was a kid, too. And it went pretty fast, and my daughter liked it. I call it a win.

And, finally, we have the lace scarf that I knit for my mom's birthday. Also from a knitty pattern, I again made an inappropriate yarn substitution, but ended up with a reasonable product. Not sure why lace patterns seem so much harder for me to remember than color or cable or other texture patterns; I memorized very quickly the pattern for the fisherman knit sweater that was the first sweater I made, lo, these many years ago, but even at the end of this lace scarf I was still checking the chart for every row. Weird. Is it because I can read textured stitches so much more easily than lace? Maybe. Maybe I just haven't done enough lace? We shall see.

That's enough for tonight.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Project Statusess(Stati?)(What is the plural for status?)

{Insert obligatory apology for not posting more often and traditional whine about not having enough time.}

Now that that's done, let's take a look at what I've been doing:

(Huh. I seem to have run up against a limit to the number or size or total volume of images you can post at once. How odd; I don't recall this happening before. May have to do this in two or more pieces.)

First, we have a project that has been around quite a while:
I started this sweater-coat for Candace about 20 years ago, the last time sweater-coats were in fashion. It's made with purple worsted sayelle held double with grey wool-ease worsted. I made one, low these many years ago, and started this one for Candace immediately after finishing the other, but somehow I got sidetracked, and it was never finished. This is a close-up of one of the sleeves; they're done, as is the back, so all I have left to do is the two fronts. Really want to get this one done this year, as I have decided that this is my year to clean out the backed-up queues in my various crafts. I'll post about another one later.

O.K., next we have some scarves that I made to be sold at the Family Flea Market at my daughter's school. I gauged my interest just about right; I was only getting really annoyed with them on the last two or three out of a dozen. Six were fun fur knitted on huge needles, and six were these loopy scarves that are crochetted, and were in style a few years ago:

Next we come to some fabulous slippers that I made for my daughter and myself. I don't usually do the "mother/daughter matching" thing, but we're going to a costume convention in April at which the theme for the Friday night social is Victorian underwear. Now, very few rocket scientists can boast as large a collection of Victorian-style undergarments as I can, but my daughter is only seven, so I stole an idea from a friend in the same situation (she has two small daughters and is going to the same con) and am making us matching Victorian nightgowns to wear. Of course, we must also have nightcaps, wrappers and slippers; nightgowns are about 90% done, wrappers and nightcaps aren't yet started, but the slippers came out great, if I do say so myself. I started with a period pattern (well, period-esque; it's from 1916, which is a little late, but I doubt that slipper styles changed all that much), but wandered away from it in a lot of ways. The result looks like the picture on the pattern, though, and we both like them and they're done; what's not to like? :-)

The final picture is my latest foray into dying with foodstuffs: my sister-in-law asked me to make some rainbow-stripped leg warmers for her granddaughter/my step-great-neice. Very frustrating, because it is almost impossible to find yarn that is a) affordable, b) feels nice, c) is machine washable, and d) comes in all the requisite colors. I finally gave up and bought three skeins of Knit Picks Bare, in DK weight, and dyed them with Wilton's cake decorating gel, in my crock pot. Five of the six colors came out quite nice, if a little uneven (in the trade, they refer to that as a "semi-solid" or "mostly solid" yarn), but the red just wouldn't work. The first time out, it ended up way too "tomato", so I put it back in with a little blue in the bath. At one point, the color was perfect; however, fearing that it would all come out in the wash, I left it in longer--and got mauve. It's not a bad color, but it certainly doesn't complete my rainbow. And since I intended to start with the red, I'm having a devil of a time getting myself to start the knitting while I ponder what to do about the red; I keep feeling I'm going to be knitting them upside down.....

You might ask, why this flurry of finishing? BECAUSE SOCK MADNESS 2 STARTS TOMORROW! Not that I'm anxious or anything. Just because they freaked me out by saying the first sock requires a solid or semi-solid yarn, but think "scary"; what the heck is that supposed to mean?!?!?!?!?!?!?

Calm. Breathe. I'm going to my happy place now.....

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