Laundry Loft Part One

My entryway is a mite crowded.  You have to stand up on the bottom step in order to open the door without interference.  I’m still amazed that we moved in all our furniture up that narrow flight of stairs.

This is also my laundry room, and I’m definitely feeling the lack of space.  You can see how the washing machine comes right to the door jamb.  I like to keep my potting soil and grass seed on top of the dryer.  That box of kleenex has been there since my parents visited in October 2008.

But if you look up, there’s so much space that I could be using.  Of course, I’m not ten feet tall so I’ll be limited in what I can do, but at the very least there needs to be a shelf up there.  I tried storing things like laundry detergent on top of the dryer, but the vibrations knock it to the floor within a day.  The potting soil has stayed there simply because it’s flat and heavy.  Anything else would be on the ground.

I’ll have to be careful of the fuse box, which you can see on the right side of the above picture.  The door of the box doesn’t open all the way because of the laundry.  Again, it’s a tight space.

The point of this particular project is to see if I can do it through scavenging alone.  I have a huge shed where my landlord’s contractor stores all his stuff.  I am determined that there are scraps in there good enough for what I’m intent on doing.

You’ll notice that the paint job in the entry way is the same horrible beige we eradicated throughout the rest of the house.   The ceilings are just too high for us to get the job done.

The plan is to lay a piece of wood so it sits about 6 inches above the top of the dryer and can be removed easily for maintenance purposes.  Because I don’t want large brackets to interfere with the dryer space I am going to prop the shelf on two pieces of wood that will be attached to the wall and will run flush to the wall along the depth of the shelf.  These will save me the space I need and will mean that I can just pop the shelf down whenever I need to.  I’ll put some small scraps running perpendicular to the wall-wood, just at the back, to prevent me from pushing the shelf backwards off its runner.

The shelf itself needn’t be super heavy duty.  All I plan to use it for is a repository for my one jug of detergent and maybe a box of Borax.  No biggie.

I need a piece of wood that is no less than 34″ (the width of the entryway).  This could be tricky.

Fortunately, Kª has volunteered the destruction of this changing table which is taking up space in the garage.As the both of us are of the school that the lower to the ground you change your baby the smaller the distance he can fall, this changing table is only gathering dust and mildew and Kª is thrilled that it can be repurposed to something else.

It looks like it’s a basic IKEA-style construction, so dismantling won’t be a big deal.  I measured and the long horizontal pieces of fibreboard are just barely 34″.  The vertical end pieces, however, are about 36″, so if I can cut the fibreboard carefully enough so it doesn’t splinter, then I can use those as well.  At least I have four different pieces of wood to screw up.

As for the ‘brackets’ that will hold up the shelf itself, I need two lengths of small-gauge board, preferably of a 2″ thickness, and about 14″ long.  There is a ton of that in the garage, and I’m sure it wouldn’t be missed.

These pieces are about twelve feet long.  The middle one is probably the ideal size for my job.  I’ll make use of it if my conscience doesn’t smite me.  I’m sure no one would miss it if I took two feet off it.  I had to unearth it from a dusty pile in order to put it on that rafter so I don’t think anyone will notice.

These pieces are less ideal.  They’re a bit narrow, thickness-wise.  I need something that the shelf can balance on securely that will distribute some of the weight.

These pieces are ones that I know nobody would mind me using, as they’re obviously remainders from other things (I used one of these to create the reinforcement on my fireplace door to keep out the mouse).  They’re even less ideal, being of varying lengths and thicknesses.  They are a last resort, for sure.  Although that little stack of squares might be useful to me.  I hadn’t seen those before in the scrap pile.  I’ll have to think about it.

Now I’m just being silly.  Though it might be interesting to see if I can make some outdoor pot stands and things from this stuff.  It’s not like any of the fireplaces in our house actually work.  What use is a whole wall of firewood?

Anyway, that’s the plan.  If I can get two days running of good weather I’ll start working on it.  In the mean time I need to pick myself up a stud finder and some nice long wood screws.  I will keep you posted.

Touque-tastic Tea Cozy

Oh, this?  This is my favourite hat.  In Canada we call such a thing a touque (“tuuk”) but no one can agree on the correct spelling.

I knit it myself.  It was the first hat I knit (knitted?) that came out the size I wanted it, and the first hat I made with ribbing.  While not warm enough for the extreme temperatures of Ottawa, it got me through two long St. John’s winters, and I loved it.

But then I washed it.  Normally not a big deal, but this time.  THIS time.

I wasn’t paying attention and it ended up in the dryer, and, being wool, it felted a bit and of course, shrank.

Now it doesn’t fit on my head.  Unless I want to look like I’m trying to encase myself in a sausage.  A green and white sausage, yes.

But it does (with some encouragement) fit over my teapot (what does that say about the size of my head?).  And I could really use a tea cozy.  This way I get to keep my favourite hat, and so we all win.  It’s amazing that such a simple invention as a wrapper for your teapot keeps your tea warm for longer.

Before we go any further, I swear to you that I am actually twenty-eight years old.  Not ninety.  Honest injun.  Hot tea is important when you spend all day locked in your office doing graduate student-y stuff, and tea cozies save you from having to turn on the microwave for reheating, which accords with the starving student lifestyle.  It’s all really a very cunning plan.

Anyway.  The hat.

The hat, in its previous incarnation, was knit all in one piece, with one side seam.

It was a simple matter to unpick that seam with a crochet hook.  The selfsame crochet hook I used to stitch up the seam in the first place.  How convenient.

This is the side where the handle will stick out. I ran a string of blue wool along the seams, trying to make them as large and uneven as possible, to give it a homely look.

I did, however, need to actually create a seam on the other side for the spout where there was none before.  While the wool is slightly felted, I was worried about it unraveling when I cut it.  I was therefore quick to reinforce the seams after the cut so as not to encourage the weave to go to pieces on me.  I was also careful to ensure my scissors didn’t cut into the intricate top circle I had made when knitting the hat.  That would be bad.

I decided to cut all the way along the spout side, instead of just cutting a little hole for the spout, first for seaming symmetry, but also so I could get a more accurate idea of where the spout was supposed to go without unduly stretching the material and skewing my results.

I reinforced both seams in navy blue wool (using a plastic wool needle), to match the pot.

I measured the cozy on the teapot to see where the seam should open up for the handle and spout and I marked them with pins.  Some tea-cozies, I know, cover the spout and the handle (and are actually better at keeping the tea warm) but my head is really not that big.  Honestly, people.

Then I sewed it up.

I also put a line of blue along the bottom edge in blanket stitch for colour.

Then, flushed with my success, I attempted – wait for it – a pom-pom.

Again, I’m 28.  Not 90.  For real.

I went with the age-old technique I learned from me auld grannie (LIES – I got it off the internet).

Cut yourself two circles out of cardstock or cardboard, and cut a centre circle out of those circles to make rings.

Take your wool and start winding it around and around the rings.  You’re going to eventually cut this so you can use different pieces of wool if it makes it easier for you to thread it through.  You can even use different colours if you wish.

Keep going, overlapping your wool, until you can’t get any more wool through. 

It takes FOREVER, and about 80 metres of wool (exaggeration, people).

Cut your losses.

Take a pair of sharp scissors and carefully cut the wool around the edge of the circle.

Once you get all the way around, you should be able to see your two cardboard rings.  Tease them apart a little.

Take another piece of wool and wind it around your new bundle, between the rings, maybe twice.

Knot the wool a couple of times.  I left the strings from this long so I could integrate them into the weave of the touque (I mean cozy), but you can cut them to match the length of the other strands if you are planning on sewing it directly to something.

Cut into the cardboard to break the rings and remove them.  Don’t forget to recycle!

Fluff out your pom-pom and trim the strands so you get a nice uniform ball.

Blamo kablam!

A touque for my teapot.