Customized Knitting Needles!

The other day I realized that I’ve been knitting for almost 7 years! I had this realization while trying to find the twin to my US7 straight bamboo needle, and being frustrated with the lack of organization in the 7-years worth of knitting needles I’ve collected. And why are the sizes engraved with tiny little numbers on the side of the needle, where they’ll eventually wear off with use?

Suddenly inspiration struck. I should label my needles on the top, and add a bit of color while I’m at it!

Here are the steps to make your own customized knitting needles!

  • Step 1: Set up your work space. I placed a scrap piece of cardboard on top of 2 sawhorses so that I could stick my needles through the cardboard, keeping them secure, making them easier to paint, and giving them a safe place to dry. I also used a pegboard to keep things organized, but that’s not at all required.
  • Step 2: Arrange your needles by their size, and stick them through the cardboard. I used the screwdriver to poke the holes for the skinnier needles, since I was worried I might break them while trying to jab them through the cardboard.
  • Step 3: Paint! I used acrylic paint and a basic old paintbrush. (Because I’m a color nerd, I found a color palette I liked from colourlovers, saved it on my phone, and used it to pick out my paints.) I painted 3 coats total, because I wanted to make sure I had excellent coverage. Acrylic paint dries SUPER fast, so 3 coats of paint was easy to do. I found the easiest strategy was to spin the needle from under the cardboard, and brush from bottom to top of the needle “bead” until all sides were painted, then finished with a brush or two on the top.
  • Step 4: Once your paint is dry, use a sharpie to write the needle sizes on the top. I also thought of using a sticker or a stencil, but at this point I just wanted to finish them, so I just used the sharpie.
  • Step Oops! (Not Suggested) Accidentally grab a can of black spray paint instead of the clear coat, and spray black speckles all over your beautiful needles. Immediately stop and freak out. Curse at things. Take a break and grab a beer. Inspect the damage. Decide your needles aren’t ruined. Move onto step 6.
  • Step 6: (Definitely suggested) Use a satin or gloss finish spray clear coat (I used satin finish, just because that’s what I had). You should only need one coat, but make sure to spray from all sides to get everything covered.
  • Step 7: Let dry. I left mine in the garage overnight, but they probably don’t need that long. Throw all your needles in a pretty container, and revel in your awesome creativity!

Other ideas I had included to label the side of the needle “bead” and glue something pretty on the top, like a button, or a plastic or fabric flower, or a bow… Pretty much anything you can think of!

I’m still trying to figure out what to do with my circulars and DPNs. Who has some ideas?

Getting labels off wine/beer bottles

I don’t remember where I found this tip (once I do, I’ll link to the site), but I’ve discovered the best way to remove labels from wine and beer bottles. Not only is the label salvageable, but the stickiness of any leftover glue residue is easily removable with water and a brush or some Goo Gone.

The key: The oven, on bake, at about 175 degrees. Preheat your oven, pop in your glass bottles, and let them get warm/hot – I’ve found about 10 minutes works best. Then remove the bottle – with an oven mitt! – find the corner of your label, and peel. The heat should have melted the glue, and the label should peel off easily. You can now stick the label to a piece of paper or something else (stick it on wax paper to save it for another project).

I used this process on 3 bottles yesterday, and all my labels came off perfectly! 

Pictures to come… once I get around to taking them. :)

adopting a puppy

I’m adopting a puppy tomorrow. This puppy. She’s 5 months old and has no name. I’m going to bring her home, name her, teach her to fetch and socialize with other dogs, give her a comfy and safe bed, let her chase the cats (just a bit… it’s good for them), feed her well, take her for adventures in this dog-friendly city, and love her unconditionally. And she’ll be good for me, too. :)

to anyone hosting a webinar

A couple pieces of advice…

  • Do a dry-run of your webinar a couple days beforehand, with test participants (your family, friends, coworkers, roommates, whatever). Figure out how to advance your slides, and what your participants will see during the presentation, and how you sound to them, how to allow others to talk or have control over the slides, etc. Don’t figure these things out during your “live” teleseminar.
  • Slides are free. Don’t put EVERYTHING you’re trying to talk about on one slide. Make it several slides. Use as little text as possible. If your slides are boring or too text-y, I’m going to be doing something else (ahem, blogging) while you’re talking.  (OMG If you ever find yourself saying “You might not be able to see that too clearly” then you should not use it on your slide.)
  • Send out a copy of your slides to attendees and have an archive of the webinar available by the next day, at the latest.
  • You don’t need your logo & website on every.single.slide. When you send out the copy of your slides, you can put it in there as a footer. But you really don’t need it on every slide. It’s annoying.
  • Stick to a color palette. Use like images. Use 1 font – maybe 2. Use large fonts. Don’t use Comic Sans.
  • Spell out acronyms.
  • You don’t have to write out everything you’re going to say – that’s why you’re saying it. If I can get the same information just by reading your slides, then you’ve written too much.
  • Host the webinar from a quiet space. Yes, we can hear the people in your office giggling in the background.

The mind of a 4-year-old

We’re playing “what kind of animal am I?” in the car on the way to the airport. We’ve had rabbits, ants, beavers, skunks, giraffes, and fish. Then it’s Tyler’s turn:

“I’m an animal that lives in your nose and when I come out, you have to get me with a tissue.”

“A booger?!”

“Yes!”

“Boogers aren’t animals!”

“Yes they are!!”

Oh, the mind of a 4 year old.

DIY Mat Remake

I like having a specific spot where the cats go to eat. In my old apartment, I used a somewhat torn-up straw mat that had spent many days at the beach.

This mat worked great in my old apartment, but the new house has tile, which makes the mat completely ineffective as a mat. I decided I’d use one of those rug gripper things to make it more sturdy. I didn’t just want to place the mat on top of the rug gripper, though, so I glued them together. Then I got a little bit more creative.

I placed a cardboard box underneath the mat to make sure glue didn’t get on the floor.

Then I placed my rug gripper on top of the mat. Luckily the rug gripper was about the same length as the mat. I’d already planned to cut the width of the mat down, so that size was perfect, too.

Other Required Tools:

Mod Podge & a foam brush

A level to help keep the side of the mat straight.

You don’t really need this, but as I was gluing, the mat was slipping up and down on the cardboard, so I used the level on one side of the mat and just brushed glue on toward the level so that the mat wouldn’t move up and down.

Oh, and a glass of wine. Again, not required, but helpful.

I glued the entire rug gripper to the mat, and let it dry for about 30 minutes.

Then I trimmed my mat around the rug gripper.

Give yourself some space on the sides because you will have extra little reed strips trying to slip off. If you think about it, give a few extra coats of glue on those reed strips that will be the edges of your completed mat – This will prevent them from coming out after cutting. 

My cuts weren’t exactly perfect, so I rolled up the mat and sanded the edges a bit.

This was my intended end-of-project, but I had a sudden epiphany that I could stain the reed mat with stain that I will be using for some other pieces of furniture in the near future.

So I rolled out my mat on the cardboard outside and gave it several coats of stain. it’s not perfect, but I’m okay with that.

Then I stuck the mat in the garage overnight. The next morning, I sprayed on a few coats of clear coat protector, and let it dry a few more hours.

While that was drying, I stuck the extra long reed pieces in a white vase! It looks surprisingly nice! I’m not yet sure what I’m doing with the small section of reed mat that’s leftover.

And here’s the final project under the buffet! A perfect place for kitties to dine.

Yuki inspecting her new food space. Next project: find where on earth I’ve packed the kitty bowls. Ha!

When your cat reacts unexpectedly to sedatives

I think that, somewhere internally, I knew that the process involved in moving cross-country would inevitably involve some trial and error and result in me learning many things about myself and others that I did not know.

I did not, however, plan to stay up for hours with a cat who was completely tripping out, unsuccessfully trying to shush him, while a house full of people tried to sleep.

Tau, my orange kitten who is exactly the opposite of Lion (what his name means), gets extremely anxious in the car. When he’s in the car, his meow begins to sound like a Beagle’s howl… a non-stopping, shrill Beagle howl. If in his crate, he thrashes around and continually smashes his head up against the sides. If out of his crate (and I only tried this once…), he proceeds to crawl to the top of my head, lodge his nails into my skull, and his Beagle howl turns into more of a fire siren, so that the whole world understands the awful situation he is in.

Knowing this, and knowing that I have to drive from Orlando to Austin, I called the vet a few weeks back. I explained the situation and my desire for Tau and myself to both safely arrive to Austin, all fur and heads in tact. The vet said she’d prescribe a sedative for him, and that we’d be all good. Fantastic.

When I stopped by to pick up his sedative, the receptionist mentioned I may want to test out the sedative on Tau a few days before the move. “Just to make sure he reacts okay,” she said. “Some people find out their cat needs this plus anti-anxiety medications to really calm down. You’d rather not find that out on our drive to Austin.” God bless the receptionist…

Last night I decided would be a perfect time to try out the sedative. I was doing a final pack of things in the apartment, and as my bed was already in the moving truck, the cats and I were going to stay at a friend’s house. Car ride, new house, new smells – a perfect time to try out this sedative.

So around 9:30 at night, I gave Tau his pill. He took it well, then had some water and a piece of cheese as a treat. About 30 minutes later, it had kicked in slightly, and his coordination began to be impaired as he chased around his catnip mouse. It was mostly hilarious- he seemed to be enjoying himself, and it was rather funny to watch.

At about 10:30, Tau was in his crate, ready to go into the car, and wasn’t fussing. “This is great!” I thought. “He’s usually squalling by now – this is perfect!” I thought.

The car ride, too, was uneventful. He hissed once, but I had also flashed a bright light in his eyes accidentally while trying to check on him, so I didn’t worry about it. The Beagle-like howl was nowhere to be heard.

I got to my friend’s house, unloaded the car, and took in the cats. This is where Tau went from calm, slightly inebriated kitty, to completely freaked out, tripped out, hissing, spitting, crazed kitty. He hissed at everything. Me, Yuki, my friend Jon, the door, the bed, the sheet on the bed, his crate, the bowl of food, his feather toy, Jon’s computer, Jon’s closet, Jon’s shoes… In between all this hissing was a constant, low growl that occasionally would get high pitched and loud. We decided Tau and Yuki needed space to explore the room and get comfortable, so Jon and I left the room.

Upon returning we found Tau in an even more elevated state. He wanted to run around, but his coordination was completely off, and every time he fell over, it freaked him out and he would hiss. He had hissed and growled at Yuki so much that she was now hiding under a cabinet and was hissing at anything that moved. I picked him up and he hissed and spit and growled until I put him down, which did nothing to improve his mood.

Eventually we decided that maybe if we turned off the lights and went to bed, that he would calm down and lay down, too. After about 2 hours of constant meowing/hissing/growling, I finally gave up on sleep and sat on the floor with Tau. I held him, I pet him, I tried to get him to play with the feather. I fed him treats, I gave him water, I put him under the blanket (which he normally likes). Nothing even remotely worked.

To make the situation even more problematic, the house I was staying in inhabits 4 other people – all of whom had also gone to bed. So I spent the entire night sitting on the floor with my cat, trying to prevent him from waking up the house, and trying to console him enough to calm down on his own. At 7:30 this morning, I gave up any hope of sleeping, and brought him back to the apartment with me so I could conclude packing. He hissed and spat and meowed all the way until about 10am. Even after the meds wore off, he was in an ornery mood, hissing anytime something moved. Finally, at noon, he calmed down, laid on the carpet, and fell asleep.

So I laid on the floor next to him and slept until I heard him meowing again. 

The vet is prescribing something different for Tau, which I will get and test on him tomorrow. I can only hope that tonight I’ll get sleep, and that tomorrow the new meds will actually work as expected.