February 14, 2013
Step 1: obtain an old letterpress type tray. Try to find one of the empty ones used for type too big to fit in the Job Case, because a) the larger type it housed was likely wood, so there’s probably less poisonous crud all over your tray, and b) it’s less work if you don’t have to take out the slats. If you’re like me you have more than 40 of these drawers sitting empty in the attic with all that other crap you’re never likely to use. Otherwise you might need to scrounge one from somewhere, but take my advice and don’t go to an antique dealer because these things are way more common than you’d think based on the prices people charge for them (see above re: more than 40 in my attic).
Step 2: wash the tray. Wash it really, really well, with your gloves on, then wash the gloves and your hands. Type is gross and poisonous and lead poisoning is unpleasant and I cannot stress hand washing enough. Also if your tray had lead type in it, make sure it is very clean before you let the cat play in it.
Step 3: let it dry. Making a fort out of it while it dries is optional, but fun!
IT IS SO FUN WHAT THIS IS MY FUN FACE OKAY
Step 4: measure the inside of the tray and cut a piece of foamcore to fit snugly. You’re going to wrap a piece of fabric around the foamcore before you attach it inside the tray, so how much smaller you make your insert will depend on the thickness of the fabric you’ve chosen; I used a very thin muslin, so my foamcore was barely more than a millimetre smaller than the space it was filling.
Step 5: cut your fabric to a bit larger than the foamcore and wrap it around like you would stretch a canvas, starting with the centre point of each side and moving outwards. Slide rustproof straight pins into the side of the foamcore to secure (carefully; if you don’t put the pins straight in, they can shoot out of the foamcore on a diagonal and go right into your finger). Fold the corners in one side at a time, as smoothly as you can, keeping in mind that, unlike stretching canvas, this only has to look good from the front. And pin, pin, pin.
If you can’t be bothered with the pins you can always use glue or tape instead. I wasn’t entirely sold on the fabric I chose (FUN FACT: there is not a single piece of fabric in my studio that is a solid colour or does not clash with pretty much everything). My tray needs to be reversible so it can be opened up again later, after the bedroom has been painted, to change the backing fabric to something that matches better. For the time being I’ve used a scrap piece of muslin that I printed with woodblocks (including a weird one from grad school with my face on it).
Step 6: fit the foamcore into the tray. If you’re sure that, unlike me, you won’t be opening it up to change the fabric any time soon, you can use some glue or double sided tape to secure the back. Mine is only attached by the hooks that hold the jewellery, so the foamcore bows out a little bit in the centre. I also wanted to keep my tray in good shape in case I ever need to put it back in the studio. You know, for holding wood type.
Step 7: it’s a good idea to draw a full sized layout on paper, and lay some of your jewellery out on it, to plan your hook placement. I didn’t do that. But you should. Then, mark out on the fabric where you want your hooks to go and use a sharp awl to make your holes. The bottom of the type tray is quite hard, so you’ll need to be sure you drive the awl into it a bit to get a hole started. Pivot the awl in a small circle to widen the hole in the fabric so that it doesn’t get caught and twisted up in the threads of the hooks you’re about to screw through it.
Step 8: put in your hooks. I used these little cornice hooks with a 90° bend for hanging necklaces, and added a row of eyehooks along the bottom for dangly earrings. Screw them in as far as they will go into the tray without the tips poking out the back, unless you are never going to move this tray ever, in which case maybe you’re not so worried about scratching up the wall.
Step 10: screw in a couple of eyehooks straight down into whichever side you’ve chosen for the top. Use those to hang the tray on your wall, then fill it up with jewellery. And you’re done!
Now sit back and marvel at why on Earth you’re still hanging onto all of those heavy long necklaces you haven’t worn since the 1990s.
Posted by jodi on February 14, 2013 at 5.45pm
April 10, 2011
Spring is here and it’s time to clear away all of the dead house plants that didn’t make it through the dim winter on the dining room windowsill (so long dead avocado tree; I’m sorry I didn’t eat you sooner, dried up basil!). Now that the gardening efforts will be concentrated outdoors (we have an entire backyard to overhaul before June), here’s a way to have a little bit of lower maintenance greenery in the house. I used tips from these tutorials at Life Hacker and Boing Boing, but didn’t follow either to the letter; moss isn’t likely to up and die on you if you don’t do things just right.
What you’ll need:
-glass jars with lids. I used a gallon pickle jar that my friend Jenn gave me (and painted the lid flat black), and a smaller storage jar with a sealer lid that I picked up at Value Village.
-soil (optional, actually, but if your jar is tall, like my pickle jar, soil will help to bring up the height of your moss garden without having to use as many rocks).
-charcoal-activated water (again, probably optional but I figured it couldn’t hurt. I broke open a Brita filter and mixed a bit of the charcoal grains with water; they didn’t really mix in but I’m sure it’ll all work out).
-one of the tutorials I looked at suggested Spanish moss, which I didn’t use because I didn’t have any. It’s another way to get some depth if you don’t want to use soil.
-plastic dinosaurs, gnomes, lego toys, ceramic figurines, plastic flowers, fish tank decorations or whatever other doo dads and frippery you want to include.
-chopsticks for placing items if the mouth of your container is too small to get your hand into.
-moss! I brought a bit of moss back with me from my visit to Georgia in February, even though the varieties probably aren’t any different than what grows here. If you want to bring home some moss from a trip, it will survive in a Ziploc bag for a good long while; mine sat around for a month before I got around to planting it. Otherwise, go out and find yourself some moss and gently peel up just a small amount (don’t go decimating a single population!) with some of the dirt attached to the bottom. I supplemented my Georgia moss with two different kinds I found in my backyard, one low and clumpy and one more luxurious and long. I also had a bit of lichen covered tree bark that I picked up in Georgia (RUH-ROH, lichen in a mossarium, I’m already DOING IT WRONG). We’ll see how that fares in there, as I’m not sure it wants to be as moist as the moss does. I don’t recommend going out and collecting lichens in the wild unless you find a piece of bark already lying on the sidewalk off the tree like I did; lichen colonies can take a hundred years to establish themselves and that’s not something I really want to go messing with.
To assemble the mossarium:
Fill the bottom of your jar with rocks or soil or Spanish moss. Sprinkle in a small amount of your charcoal activated water if you’re using that, or regular water. You don’t want it to be TOO wet or the glass will just fog up. Then place your decorative rocks and the larger of your doo dads: in my large jar I used one large-ish rock and a statue of a bowling friar, which I placed before planting the moss, but in the smaller jar I just placed the rocks and then waited to decorate it until after the moss was planted.
Now break off small sections of your moss and place them on and around the rocks, using the chopsticks to wedge the moss into any smaller spaces. You don’t have to carpet the whole thing, as the moss will spread on its own, but if you’re impatient you might like to fill up a lot of the gaps between the rocks right away. I placed most of my moss directly on the soil around the base of the rocks and shoved a bit into the narrow spaces between the rocks and the glass, then put a few clumps right on top of the rocks just to see how they’ll fare there. Then put in any of your smaller decorations. If they’re lightweight like my little plastic dinosaurs you’ll want to press them down into the moss bed a bit so they’re secure.
Place your mossarium in a location where it’s protected from direct sunlight and wait for your moss to grow! You won’t have to water it very often but when you do, just take the lid off the jar and sprinkle in a few tablespoons of water. If the glass becomes foggy just open the lid for an hour or two to let the steam off (but don’t forget to put the lid back on; your mossarium wants to stay moist).
Posted by jodi on April 10, 2011 at 9.38am
February 17, 2011
This new design in progress, worked in my January handspun, uses a line of Vikkel Braid to set the main pattern off from the 1×1 ribbed hem. The braid creates a little line of knit stitches that seem to move sideways across the work. It’s normally used for small projects (such as mittens) knitted in the round, but there’s no reason it can’t be used to great effect in a larger project knitted flat as well.
There are a few descriptions of this technique around the web, but I learned it from a German video (link) Nancy Bush’s Folk Knitting in Estonia is probably the best print source on Vikkel Braid. As putting it into a design intended for publication means having to describe in writing how it’s done, I thought making a little photo tutorial would be good practice. The technique looks a little fiddly in the video linked above but it’s actually quite simple to execute.
While learning the stitch I took some photos; please excuse the quality, as I didn’t realize just how tricky it is to photograph closeups of your own hands, and the lack of adequate natural light only adds to the murkiness. I’m not apologizing for the dry skin, though: it’s February, y’all.
Start with a M1 increase (shown above) and slip that onto the left hand needle.
Knit a stitch through the back loop of the second stitch on the left hand needle:
and (without slipping that stitch off the needle) bring the right hand needle back to the front and knit into the first stitch.
Slip all of that (the first and second stitches from the left needle) off.
Now you have two stitches made, the tbl stitch and the regular one. In retrospect this is probably more images than are really necessary. Ah, well.
Slip the last stitch from the right hand needle back to the left.
Now, repeat steps 2 and 3 until you get to the end. You’ll wind up with one stitch more than you started with; when working in the round, you’ll slip that last stitch over the first stitch of the next round to get rid of it. Working flat, just make the first stitch of your next round a k2tog or p2tog decrease. And now you have a lovely line of sideways knitting that will impress your friends and instill bitter envy in your enemies.
Here’s what the finished braid looks like in Berroco Ultra Alpaca (unblocked):
Posted by jodi on February 17, 2011 at 4.34pm