Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Kath is an EXTREMIST!!!!

How do these things get started with me? I'm trying to trace it back...I know about a year ago I saw this:

Intriguing, to be sure! Oh! I remember the second seed--I got hardwood floors in my living rooms and studio, and I decided I needed a rug in one of them because it's too dark. And my room inspiration was a hyacinth, but I couldn't find the colors I wanted in a rug I could afford. Which got me to thinking about making a rug. Which got me to thinking about how very long that would take. So there you have it, birth of my insanity!

I broached the subject with Cary, Extreme Husband, who A) thought I had lost it; B) likes it when I lose it. (It can be entertaining.) I had to think on it from many angles for a bit, and do much net research, involving e-mailing one lovely lady in England for advice, and waking extremely early one Sunday morning with a groggy "Eureka!" and a particularly useful woodworking forum in South Carolina.


  • 3' hardwood dowels, located at Sears Hardware. You can also use rake handles, shovel handles, broom handles--but we found that these were more expensive, even at the bargain bin hardware discount warehouse extravaganza emporium. (Obscure Brave Little Toaster reference FYI.)
  • Sandpaper sheets...Various grades, 150 to 420, and yes, you do need 420. (I know you're trying to cheap out, because so am I.)
  • Workbench, preferably with a bench vise attached. ( can use those $13 work benches that crank to separate in the middle. I know, because I did.)
  • VERY IMPORTANT Belt Sander--this is how the magic happens, and it took me a while to figure this out.
  • Very rough grade wood sandpaper belts, 150 or so.
  • Safety equipment like goggles and gloves.
  • Optional: Dremel tool with sandpaper tubes.
  • Minwax Polishing Wax

  • Yeah, I know how you are, so this picture goes right at the beginning. Since when does a bathing suit count as safety gear??? Obviously you have never done any woodworking outdoors in Houston, have you? That's what I thought. (And for the record, you can't do it inside because of the sawdust--never thought of that either, had you? That's what I thought.) (And for the second record, Cary is on notice that I need an air conditioned woodworking shop.)

    You can see in this picture how much fun it is to make your own extreme knitting needles! Also, you can see how I clamped the dowel in the middle of the bench with the end exposed. The woodworking site explained how you can use a bench clamp to put your belt sander upside down and just hold the dowel at an angle against the belt to shape the tip. I didn't have that set up, so I had to angle my heavy belt sander against the tip instead and periodically rotate the dowel, but whatever works!

    ::SAFETY MESSAGE:: I forgot to mention that we had monsoonal moisture in day a storm was bubbling up and I was furiously working on my needle tips when sparks started flying off of the belt sander. Time to shut it down! Moisture and power tools do not mix!

    As I worked on this, naturally my thinking cap was on, and I thought about how much more versatile these needles would be if they were double pointed so I could ... you guessed it...knit circular! So that's what I did.

    In order to keep the stitches from slipping off the end, if you are using the needles as straights, you poke a hole in a tennis ball and jam it on the end. This also helps while you are knitting, as the end opposite the stitches can ram against the floor otherwise.

    After rough shaping with the belt sander, a dremel tool comes in very handy to finesse it up a bit. Then sanding by hand cannot be beat. Finally, a coat of polishing wax applied, let dry 15 minutes and buffed gives the needles a nice surface that doesn't grab the fibers and allows the stitches to slide comfortably up and down the needles.

    While awaiting drier days to complete my needles, I bought a couple of books on big needle knitting and learned about several fiber options that lend themselves well to this application. I was most excited about the t-shirt loop yarn, especially since Extreme Husband had recently gone through his extreme collection of t-shirts and brought me a black trash bag full.

    Remember when you were a kid and you made potholders out of those rings of sock slices? Well, this is the same concept: You just cut strips 1 1/2" wide from side-seam to side-seam and join them by looping them through one another.

    I cast on 30 stitches using the Down and Dirty method and commenced EXTREME KNITTING!!!

    Now I just have to finish making this rug for my kitchen! Hopefully you can see the finished project before my daughter finishes college.

    I have already purchased two more dowels to make my other double pointed needles, but I am going to wait for a little cooler weather before proceeding!


    Anonymous said...

    "monsoonal". LOL!!
    A very accurate description of your insanity!! Loved it.


    Anonymous said...

    LAWD HAVE MERCY! I started thinking about the safety lectures from Mr. Shoemake (Shop teacher at Coahoma) and started imagining his reaction to the bathing suit! And then that flowed into a mental picture of HIM in a bathing suit with eye protection and work gloves... I damn near spotted I got to laughing so hard! Vic and I had watched the lady on youtube knitting with the sapling sized knitting "needles" and were simulataneously fascinated but unmotivated to emulate! We are however in the process of digging out (after 3 years of grad school) so that we don't die of embarrassment to have you over to do the machine knitting... if you're still willing that is. But maybe you want to finish your rug first?? Looking forward to more updates!

    Kath said...

    Oh of course I am willing!!! I may be a little rusty, but I'll figure it out!

    mommydearest922 said...

    Those ROCK! You ROCK...and those are the biggest needles I have ever seen.