February 29, 2008

Knitting Present

Now that I've cleared my knitting past, I can post something a bit more up to date. True, these projects aren't exactly today, but they're recent enough for me.

Okay, so technically the Gnomy hats have already been blogged, but I wanted to give them the attention they deserve. Even Rachel has posted about them (and this latest entry has me cracking up)!

So what's there to say about these hats? Well, the stats, of course!

  • Yarn: a combination of Rowan Big Wool, (what I think is) Biggie Print, and Tahki Davos yarns
  • Needles: I dunno... US 8's?
  • Pattern: Gnomey Hat, another great pattern from Adrian at Hello Yarn
  • Started: November 2007
  • Finished: December 2007
  • Notes: I meant to make and put pompoms on the ear flaps, but my one experience making a pompom for Matt's Jayne Cobb hat was more than enough. These are very fun hats to make. As for wear, Benny's hat is a little snug (which is good) and Sammy's hat is way too big (which is fine).

But I did not go up to MN with just these hats in my hands. What kind of knitting aunt do you take me for? Besides a cute pair of mittens for Benny (do they fit, Rach?) and a Panta headband for Rachel, I knit a Baby Surprise Jacket for the wee one.

  • Yarn: 6 balls of Debbie Bliss Merino Aran in 4 boyish colors (gold, camel, charcoal, and teal)
  • Needles: Addi Turbos 5.0mm circs
  • Pattern: the awesome Baby Surprise Jacket by Elizabeth Zimmerman
  • Started: November 2007
  • Finished: February 16, 2008 (some might note that this was when we were already in MN, well the knitting was done 12/17, but I didn't get the buttons until the day before we flew out)
  • Notes: Because this yarn is aran weight, it'll be a while before it'll fit lil' Sammer Bammers. But that's okay, he has a couple hand-me-down sweaters in the meantime. Despite waiting til the last minute, the metal star buttons I got at the Woolie Ewe were perfect! I can't wait until he can wear this sweater (and Rachel gets pictures - hee!).

Next up, Knitting Future!

Posted by Nanc at 02:47 PM | Comments (4)

February 28, 2008

Knitting Past

Looking back, there have been some significant knits that, although completed and enjoyed by their recipients, I never blogged. These projects were all knit in 2007, most in the later part of the year, ta' boot. But still, that's no excuse.

(Long and picture heavy post.)

Matty's Vest

I am incredibly proud of this knit, and I may encourage Matt to wear it more than he really wants to. But any fuss from him has me threatening never to knit for him again. Is that wrong?


  • Yarn: 1 ¾ skeins of Brooks Farm Duet
  • Needles: Addi Turbo 3.5mm (ribbing) and 3.75mm (body) circs
  • Pattern: v-neck vest pattern from The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns by Ann Budd (borrowed from GoodGirlPurl)
  • Started: April 2007
  • Finished: September 2007
  • Notes: I found the front of the v-neck to be a bit tricksy and it didn’t want to lay right, so I redid it with an overlap v-neck, which I'm much happier with. If I were to make this again, I'ld fix the back of the collar because it rides up a little high. But otherwise, it looks and fits great! (What a panic that was, let me tell you. My first sweater knit for someone else. Eep!)

    I have about 1 ¼ skeins leftover of this yarn that I don't know what to do with. (Matching vest would be a bit too TOO, right?) Perhaps I'll put it up on my Ravelry stash to trade/sell page.

We Call Them Pirates Hat

I knit this hat because I really, really, REALLY wanted to. I didn't have a recipient in mind, and I used it to teach myself how to do colorwork. (My first fair isle, awwww.) It was offered up to Matty first, but he couldn't be distracted from his desire for the Jayne Cobb hat. As soon as Chris plopped it on her cute lil' head, it was perfect!


  • Yarn: Plymouth Dreambaby 4 ply; 1 ball of navy and 1 ball of cream
  • Needles: 3.25mm for the hat and 2.5mm for the half liner
  • Pattern: We Call Them Pirates hat from the wonderful and talented Adrian of Hello Yarn
  • Started: October 2007
  • Finished: October 2007 (wow – I must have really hauled ass on this)
  • Notes: I wish this hat looked as awesome on me as it does on Skitter, 'cause I would make tons o' them. I guess I'll have to suffice making baby versions!

Family Hats

Okay, I do not lay claim to making all of these wonderful hats. This was a collaborative effort by all the knitgrrls that attended MSWF last year and stayed at my brother's house. As a Thank You to my bro and his family, we knitgrrls divided up the work and made knit hats for each member of the family. Originally, the dog would've gotten something, but then they (my brother's family) got two exchange students for the year, and they're automatically family, too!

So I knit two hats, one for my nephew Liam and one for an exchange student (I didn't know which one). The Purling Pirate knit an oh-la-la fancy beret (Ravelry link) for Lindsay (wife/mother), Purse-ho knit the Syncopated Cap for Kevin (bro), Bot-Gurl knit a fair isle hat for Julia (niece), and Skitter knit a quicky ribbed hat for the other exchange student. All of these hats are wonderful and loved by their new owners, which in some cases was not the intended recipient. (I hear rumors of hat swapping and multi-wearer hats!)

Liam's Hat Stats

  • Yarn: 2 balls of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino in dark teal (340203) and wheat (340506)
  • Needles: 3.25mm
  • Pattern: Ring of Fire by Cider Moon (psst… the pattern is free)
  • Started: November 2007
  • Finished: November 2007 (before Thanksgiving)
  • Notes: I love this hat and the yarn was wonderful.

Student Hat Stats

  • Yarn: Mission Falls 1824 Wool in charcoal and leftovers (from the Doctor Who scarf) of KnitPicks Wool of the Andes in pumpkin
  • Needles: 4.5mm circ
  • Pattern: some basic ribbed hat pattern; I did the cast-on row and a single stripe in the pumpkin to spice it up
  • Started: November 2007
  • Finished: November 2007 (I think this only took me two nights)
  • Notes: I wish that I made a note of what pattern I used, because I really like how this hat turned out.


Posted by Nanc at 04:16 PM | Comments (7)

February 20, 2008

Back from Minnesota

We just got back from a long weekend visiting with Rachel, Jason, Ben, and Sam of welikedogs fame. We had lots of fun. We played with Sam, who is wee tiny and super-cute. Ben was also fun, and is a super-awesome big boy. We ate ridiculously well. We played video games.

We stayed inside most of the weekend. It was cold. It was like Minnesota in February. On the day we left, it was minus three outside, and windy.

The pictures are in no particular order. Okay, I lie. They are actually in alphabetical order by file name. It's still a pretty random though. More details with the pix.

Posted by Matty at 04:50 PM | Comments (4)

February 12, 2008

Revitalizing Roomba

As our Roomba started getting older, we noticed that he didn't have the same pep. He would peter out after vacuuming for 30 minutes or so, and he wasn't doing the best job, either.

I checked my manuals, and tried reconditioning the battery, but to no avail. There was no way around it. Roomba needed a new battery.

I could have just bought a new battery from irobot.com, but where's the fun in that? How could I turn that into an article?

Truth is, the idea of buying a new battery made me grumpy. To purchase a new battery from irobot would cost $70+. It's not an extravagant sum, but it is almost half of what I paid for roomba in the first place.

Time to do some research.

I found out that a roomba battery is little more than 12 sub-C batteries (sub-C batteries look just like regular C batteries without the nipples on top). Surely, 12 batteries could be found for cheaper than $70.

On eBay, I purchased a ready-made battery pack for $28 (plus $10 shipping), that came with a special screwdriver necessary to open the original battery case. The replacement battery has better specs and lasts longer than the original roomba battery did when it was new. It wouldn't be that much harder to build the pack from scratch, but $38 seemed fair.

It took about half an hour to replace the battery pack. The most difficult part is taking apart the casing. It turns out that iRobot would rather that you buy a new battery. First they use proprietary triangle screws on the casing. Then to be really sure that you can't get at it, the casing is glued together. arrgh.

Once you get the case open, it's a simple matter to drop the new battery in and solder the old clips on to the wires.

The new battery is like Viagra for roomba. He's full of vigor again, and vacuuming up our messes like a roomba half his age. He lasts about 2 hours now, more than enough to keep our floors shiny and free of cat hair. More details of the build in the pictures.

So, I saved $35-40 and wasted 30 minutes of my life. I'd call it a wash, except that it's always more fun to build something than to buy something. Oh, and I got a new fancy triangle screwdriver.

Posted by Matty at 04:41 PM | Comments (6)

February 04, 2008

Hee hee - He said "duty"

This morning, I went to uphold my civic duty and serve on a jury. This afternoon, most of us were sent home. Huh.

This is how the day went:
I got up extra early (for me) and took a quick walk around the neighborhood. (Some fresh air, a little exercise - does a body good.) I ate a bit of breakfast before jumping in the shower and getting ready for the day. I dressed in my normal "business casual" work clothes, woke Matty, and realized that I was running 30 minutes early.

Ah, that's okay. I can knit! So I head up to the new, huge McKinney courthouse. Ooh - so big and imposing... so many stairs! I sit in my car and knit for a bit, finishing up the first of a pair of baby booties. (No knitting needles in the courthouse, however.)

It's finally time, so I head into the courthouse and into the jury selection waiting room along with approx. 400 of my fellow Collin County-ites. Ah, diversity and humanity waiting together, bored, on hard metal folding chairs. We get a short but rousing speech on the wonders of serving on a jury. ("It's like watching a TV show, but a live performance and no commercials!" we're told by a JUDGE!)

And we wait. And wait.

About 70 people are called in for one jury selection; most come back. An hour later, another group of 70. Again, most come back. About 3 hours in we get the news that, although their were 12 cases that had asked for juries, 10 of these are still in deliberations or have settled. In other words, nothing for us to do.

We're thanked for our time and sent on our merry way. Most of the folks were more than happy to skip out on this bit of community service, be not me. I'm a bit disappointed. I kind of wanted to participate. Ah, but not, at least, for another 24 months!

Matt said that I shouldn't be all that sad, it's not like they were going to choose me anyway. What, with my purple hair.

Oh. Did I forget to mention that? (Hee hee) This weekend, for a bit of something different, I dyed my hair: purple and lighter blonde, and I love it!

Posted by Nanc at 06:40 PM | Comments (9)

February 01, 2008

"An elegant weapon for a more civilized age"

I recently finished wiring and putting together our den/theater room, and was stumped on how to decorate it. I came up with an idea, which Nanc readily agreed to. (Remember that did you agreed to this, Nancy.)

I thought that it would be fun to decorate the room with props from some of our favorite movies and TV shows. After doing a little more research, I realized that the stuff that I really wanted was just a tad out of my price range.

Being the resourceful guy that I am, I decided to build some of the pieces myself. It's fun, and keeps me from doing anything useful. My first piece is finished. Pics and details inside.

On my 5th birthday, I saw Star Wars at the US 23 drive-in. I had the toys. I had the bed sheet and cover set. I had the shampoo. Star Wars anything turned me into a rabid, frothing-at-the-mouth kid. I loved me some Star Wars, so I thought that a lightsaber would be a great place to start.

Turns out, it wasn't all that hard to make, either. Star Wars was filmed on a (relatively) small budget - around 11M. Many of the props, costumes, and models were made from found items that were jazzed up by gluing on spacey-looking bits and greeblies.

For instance, Luke and Darth Vader's lightsabers were just old camera flashes, dressed up a little bit. I was confident that I could make this prop, no problem. My next step was to figure which lightsaber to make.

I ended up choosing to make Luke's lightsaber from "Empire Strikes Back." ESB is my favorite of the trilogy, and Luke's lightsaber looks pretty cool.

I did some research online. Luckily, Star Wars geeks are plentiful and computer savvy. I was able to find a great deal of information. Worth mentioning are Parts of Star Wars, and this forum thread from Rebel Scum.

I procured the necessary parts from the e of Bay and got to work. First, I disassembled the Graflex 3-cell flash holder, and cleaned it really well with nail polish remover and Goo Gone for the tough bits.

Next, I carefully drilled holes into the metal handle and used a tap to thread the holes. The holes are needed to secure the black rubber grips into place. Fun fact: the original grips were most likely made from a rubber track for sliding doors. While they look cool, they're actually pretty uncomfortable to hold onto. Mark Hamill managed to act through the pain. Being a Jedi is not nearly as glamorous as you think.

After getting the rubber grips on, I drilled and tapped the holes for the belt ring. (Just in case um... I ever need to hang it on my Jedi belt. You never know.) From there, the rest of the build was cake. I added a little bit of a computer board to the control box clamp, and put a piece of shiny tape on the clamp to cover up the Graflex logo. The entire project took me about 60 minutes, but I was very slow and deliberate.

And now the first prop is done. (Yay!)... I already have ideas for the next one.

There aren't any photshopped pictures of me playing with my new lightsaber. Nanc has requested that those not leave the house. They're probably way too cool, right? Or, maybe she doesn't want me to end up like the Star Wars Kid.

I'm curious. When you comment, try to think of one movie prop that you would love to have.

Posted by Matty at 01:31 PM | Comments (3)