Monthly Archives: January 2014

Child’s Jewelry Box

Backtracking to Christmas presents, last year I made my niece a small jewelery box. Not having children, I have no idea what age is appropriate for jewelry. I figured if I was too early, I could just hold onto it till next year, but the back up plan proved unnecessary.

The box is small, being approximately a 1.5″ cube made of 1/4″ thick hardwood.  The materials were:

-1/4″ x 1.5″ wide red oak.  You need a little under a foot.
-1.5″x1.5″ velvet
-1.5″x1.5″ cardstock
-1 mm diameter ~15″ length leather cord
-Wood Glue
-Lacquer (I use the paint on variety.)
-Double sided carpet tape
-Clamps
-Miter Saw
-Optional silver inlay wire

All the steps, minus the silver inlay, are below. One day in the not too distant future I’ll have to do a wire inlay post.  This took quite a while to do, maybe 2-3 weeks start to finish working at night, mostly due to day long breaks for glue and lacquer to dry, but I am very happy with the results.

Using your miter say cut 4 equal piece out with 45deg ends.  The easiest way to make them equal is clamp a block down for the part to push against

Using your miter saw, cut 4 equal pieces out with 45 deg ends. The easiest way to make them equal is  to clamp a block down for the wood to sit against

line the 4 sides up with cellophane tape on the back across the piece and glue between.

Line the 4 sides up with cellophane tape on the back across the piece and glue between.

Close out the pieces and clamp it together hard.  Wipe of any excess glue.

Close out the pieces and clamp it together hard. Wipe off any excess glue.

Sand down the whole box, the inside edges are much easier to sand before you add a bottom.  I use a chisel as a sharp edge to sand the corners.

Sand down the whole box; the inside edges are much easier to sand before you add a bottom. I used a chisel as a sharp edge to sand the corners.

cut out a square and glue it into the bottom.  Try to get a snug fit for looks, then sand it down.

Cut out a square and glue it into the bottom. Try to get a snug fit for looks, then sand it down flush.

Cut out two caps, one that fits in slightly tightly and one that is slightly larger than the box.  Line up they grains and glue together

Cut out two caps, one that fits in slightly tightly and one that is slightly larger than the box. Line up the grains and glue together

Test fit the cap. You can see I added a H monogram in silver wire after i tested the fit.

Test fit the cap. You can see I added an H monogram in silver wire after I tested the fit.

Now sand to match the faces  At this point give everything 2-3 layers of lacquer.

Now sand to match the faces. At this point, give everything 2-3 layers of lacquer.

I wanted to keep the cap attached to the base so I braided together 3 leather cords and added a wall&crown knot at the end

I wanted to keep the cap attached to the base so I braided together 3 leather cords and added a wall&crown knot at the end with some lacquer to hold fast.

Drilling a matching hold through the op and 1/2" into the base glue the cord in with 5 minute epoxy. Ensure the cap is is on the cord before glueing

Drill a matching hole through the top and 1/2″ deep into the base and glue the cord in with 5 minute epoxy. Ensure the cap is on the cord before gluing.

Test fit a piece of cardstock into the base with a gap equal to the thickness of velvet

Test fit a piece of cardstock into the base with a gap equal to the thickness of velvet.

Cut the velvet as shown and fold onto double sided tape on the card stock.  Get nice velvet, it feels sooo good.

Cut the velvet as shown and fold onto double sided tape on the card stock. Get nice velvet – it feels sooo good. Press into the box.

And here is the finished box from the outside.

And here is the finished box from the outside.

And the inside.  I also added a ring I silver soldered together to prime the jewelry pump.

And the inside. I also added a ring I silver soldered together to prime the jewelry pump.

Arm Warmers

I do a lot of biking in the early morning to get to school. Being California, it’s chilly in the mornings, but not chilly enough that I want to wear a jacket or a sweatshirt after about three miles. I’ve been wearing t-shirts and my torso warms up nicely but my arms are always cold so I decided to do something about it and make myself some arm warmers.

I got the base pattern out of Knitting Lingerie Style, but made a couple of modifications. The most noticeable, if you look at the pattern, is that I didn’t put the feather trim on the “gloves”. Feathers are not my style and definitely wouldn’t work for the practical garment I wanted. Secondly, I made the arm warmers a bit shorter than the pattern called for since I only wanted them to go the height of my t-shirt sleeves. I’m not sure this was the best call as they slip down about an inch or two after a few miles, but they might be harder to take off on the go if they were longer.

I wanted gray, but I had a lot of black yarn left from another project.

I wanted gray, but I had a lot of black yarn left from another project.

I learned a new stitch in this project that looks a bit like cabling. You knit the second stitch on the left needle, then the first stitch, and only then do you slide them over to the right needle. It took me several readings to figure out how this worked, but I liked the effect.

The mock cable pattern made these look pretty as well as warm.

The mock cable pattern made these look pretty as well as warm.

I’ve been using these the last couple of weeks and really like them. They are very warm, even when slightly wet, since I used wool. They’re also very comfortable and easy to take off at traffic lights if my arms get too warm. Since the first time I started using these, they have become a part of my every day biking gear.

Almaden Quicksilver County Park (N37.18 W121.83)

So Jasmine and I decided to take advantage of the nice weather this weekend and continue our effort to go to all of the Santa Clara County Parks; this week was Almaden Park.  Apparently it was once the site of quicksilver (mercury) mining and there are a bunch of abandoned buildings associated with the mining still around.  In unsurprising news, there are a lot of signs up to not eat any of the fish you catch.

It was a pretty cool park in one respect – the old abandoned mining buildings were pretty cool to look at, but they are in very poor shape.  It also was the most busy SC country park we have been to: we probably passed about 50 people in the 3 hours and 8 miles we walked which is nearly triple what we usually see.  But other than the buildings, it was about the same as the rest of the parks in the Santa Cruz Mountains: rolling hills, dry grass, and a bunch of gnarly trees. I would say that we would go back again, but not in preference to any of the other local parks.

We did a little bushwacking in the beginning a found a creek. Running water in a drought!

We did a little bushwacking in the beginning and found a creek. Running water in a drought!

Someone abandoned a car door 1km up the trail and shot a bunch holes into it.  Proof even the bay area has its rednecks

Someone abandoned a car door 1 km up the trail and shot a bunch holes into it. Proof even the bay area has its rednecks.

After the bushwacking we found the trail.  Jasmine is pleased.

After the bushwacking, we found the trail. Jasmine is pleased.

An abandoned building at English Camp.

An abandoned building at English Camp.

a grove of the largest cacti that I have ever seen.

A grove of the largest cacti that I have ever seen.

Hard to see it but there is a mountain lion just past the trail.  It is only the second time I have seen a mountain lion twice in my life, and there were two here! looked like an mom and a kitten but I wasn't getting close enough to check.

Hard to see, but there is a mountain lion just past the trail. It is only the second time I have seen a mountain lion in my life and there were two here! Looked like an mom and a kitten, but I wasn’t getting close enough to check.

This burner is the coolest of the equipment, it was used to distill mercury and sulfur out of the rocks.  Looks like alchemy to me.

This burner is the coolest of the equipment. It was used to distill mercury and sulfur out of the rocks. Looks like alchemy to me.

Obligatory overlook view of south San Jose.

Obligatory overlook view of south San Jose.

Chestnuts

Chestnuts are something that I always associated with my dad’s Thanksgiving stuffing, but I never had tried to make them myself.  Then the other day I saw them for sale at my local grocery store and figured I would give cooking them a try.  With a little help from How to Cook Everything, I decided to roast them in the oven then eat them out of the shell.  They had a surprising taste: kind of nutty but more like a slightly dry pumpkin pie – but in a good way.  We will certainly be doing this again.

First pick through the nuts and get rid of the hollow feeling nuts, mine had a 10% attrition rate.

First pick through the nuts and get rid of the hollow feeling nuts; mine had a 10% attrition rate.

One of the sides of the nuts is more flat, score that with an x through the skin of the nut

One of the sides of the nuts is more flat, score that with an x through the skin of the nut.

Heat up the oven to 450, and chuck in the score of scored nuts

Heat up the oven to 400, and chuck in the score of scored nuts.

about 20 minutes later the shells will have opened up so take them out of the oven

About 20 minutes later the shells will have opened up so take them out of the oven.

Now as soon as they are just cool enough to peel remove the outer and inner skin and you are left with a pile of meat.  Don't let them cool down completely as they get hard to peel.

Now, as soon as they are just cool enough to peel, remove the outer and inner skin and you are left with a pile of meat. Don’t let them cool down completely as they get hard to peel.

Now just eat up, we got about2 cups of chestnuts from our 20 nuts.  They are best how but were still ok the next day stored in the refrigerator

Now just eat up! We got about 2 cups of chestnuts from our 20 nuts. They are best hot, but they were still OK the next day stored in the refrigerator.

Sugar Snap Peas

Lloyd and I have always wanted to grow food of some sort but, for various reasons, never quite succeeded. A couple of months ago we were wandering around downtown Sunnyvale and saw a sign for a garden show at the community garden. We didn’t even know there was a community garden so we decided to check it out.

The community garden was actually pretty cool and they were selling a few random seedling plants for very cheap prices. Being a fan of sugar snap peas, I decided to buy a set of six seedlings. We planted them in three pots thinking some of them would surely die off. None of them did. And then, just this week, we actually had some for dinner!

The most productive of our planters.

The most productive of our planters.

Behold our bounty! There were a few more that night, but not many.

Behold our bounty! There were a few more that night, but not many.

There are still a few sugar snap peas on the vine that aren’t ready to eat yet so there may still be a second night of home-grown appetizers. Plans are in the works for a more elaborate fruit and vegetable garden.

Long Project

For Lloyd’s birthday in 2012 (yes, 2012), I told him I would knit him another sweater. At the time we’d misplaced the first one and I figured that once prelims were over I’d have lots of free time. So I sat down and knitted furiously for a while – until we found the original sweater in a box we hadn’t unpacked since we moved. I’d discovered in the meantime that the great notes I’d left myself told me nothing about how I made the sweater the first time around. I decided to keep with the project so that I would have actual instructions the next time I wanted to make one.

The original sweater I knit a few years ago.

The original sweater I knit a few years ago.

Well, between school and other projects and being social, it took a bit longer than expected. When I made the first sweater, I had a full time job that was limited to 40 hours a week and I lived by myself so I would come home most days after work and knit for a couple of hours. I assumed that it would take roughly the same time to knit the second sweater and, buoyed by my fast initial progress, grossly underestimated the time required.

By Lloyd’s birthday 2013, the sweater still wasn’t finished and I felt that I ought to give him some sort of warm shirt. We’d been talking about the idea of t-shirt weight hoodies for a while so I made him a Zelda inspired hoodie.

The hood was a bit deeper than necessary.

The hood was a bit deeper than necessary.

I went through several sleeve iterations on this one, but it turned out well in the end. I also learned a new skill: embroidery. Rather than a logo on the pocket, I embroidered a gold triforce. Technically a logo, but it doesn’t indicate the maker.

At Christmas, I was still knitting and beginning to feel a bit embarrassed about it. I had made the bold claim around Thanksgiving that it would finally be done by Christmas. This time I had forgotten that I had yet to make Christmas presents for anyone. I was taking careful and detailed notes of the pattern I had developed based on the hoodie pattern in Stitch ‘n Bitch, but that wasn’t the part that was slowing me down.

I finally finished on New Year’s Eve at about 9 pm – just before we went out for the night. I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions, but I am a fan of not stretching projects to a third calendar year.

It's finally done!

It’s finally done!

Our assessment of the finished sweater is that the hood was much better than last time since it actually worked as a hood. The sleeves are way too wide, a fact I suspected after making the Zelda hoodie, but I had already finished one so it was already too late. But the sweater is warm and awaiting the cold(ish) nights in Sunnyvale.

Lessons learned:

  1. Numbers lie. Always do a reality check before assuming that number I wrote down is definitely right and I should just go with it. This is what happened to the sleeves.
  2. Use the engineering standard for estimating time for projects. Maybe then I wouldn’t have declared it would be done multiple times before actually completing it.
  3. Don’t start new projects until the old ones are finished. So far, so good, but it’s only been two weeks since I finished the sweater.

All in all, this project was a success and certainly an interesting experience. I enjoyed making the sweater (yes, really) so much that I’m planning on making myself a sweater – a thing I have not yet attempted. Let’s hope it doesn’t take me as long to finish the next one.

Tomales Bay – Oysters (N38.11 W122.85)

Jasmine and I went up north of San Francisco this weekend to eat some fresh oysters at Tomales Bay Oyster Co. It is kind of a longish day trip up from Sunnyvale so we decided to make a whole day of it and drive up Hwy 1 north of the city.  It was a gray, drizzly day in the morning so that detracted a little from the drive, but the slow drivers on the road were worse – I guess I’m just not the sort that can go for a fun drive. I would always rather get out and walk a bit, so we did.  In the Point Reyes National Seashore, we stopped for a bit of hiking and lunch.

It was pretty on the hike

A very San Francisco day, grey with rolling fog and questionable drizzle. I know I'm weird but I like it.

A very San Francisco day: gray with rolling fog and questionable drizzle. I know I’m weird, but I like it.

We took a break for lunch under a tree to keep a little dry.

We took a break for lunch under a tree to keep a little dry.

Continuing on with the road trip we passed a pretty cool church, but I'm biased by the wood siding and the stained glass

Continuing on with the road trip, we passed a pretty cool church, but I’m biased by the wood siding and the stained glass.

Looking west out over Tomales bay, the color in the picture is actually how it looked in real life

The tide rolled out and it was rather muddy

The tide rolled out and it was rather muddy.

The oyster companies tables

The oyster company’s tables.

So between the four of us, we got 4 dozen oysters and ate half of them on the half shell and half of them grilled.  They were very tasty and I completely forgot to take pictures: sorry.  You’ll just have to go for yourself and eat some oysters. :)

 

 

 

State of the Flowers

Friends, Romans, country men; the state of our flowers is strong.  To get the rest of the country’s mind off of the record lows this week, we thought we would show the progress of some of the flowers in our backyard now in sunny California (Laugh at us this summer when the droughts and fires are horrible, or an earthquake hits and we’re halfway to Hawaii.).

It's a weed!  I actually like dandelions.

It’s a weed! I actually like dandelions.

Our Poppies are sprouting up, no flowers as of yet

Our poppies are sprouting up, but no flowers as of yet.

Iris likewise out but no flowers

Iris likewise out but no flowers.

First daffodil is flowering in its pot

First daffodil is flowering in its pot.

Our Flowering bush tree thing is going to town, I think it blooms all year more or less.

Our flowering bush tree thing is going to town. I think it blooms all year more or less.

And the side yard appreciate its first paperwhite Narcissus

And the side yard appreciates its first paper-white Narcissus.

Das Clog trial run

So the small sail boat I hinted at a couple weeks ago was taken out this weekend and it works! Her name is Das Clog because she does look rather like a wooden shoe.

Jasmine and I waited for a calm day and took her out on the bay for a trial run where everything was successful – at least in the sense that we floated around for an hour and a half without sinking.  We paddled out a quarter mile into the wind, then sailed back straight downwind to the dock at about half a mile an hour in a one knot breeze.  Sorry for the bad pictures, but the boat is a little cramped to take pictures of when you are on board.

Also, I don’t think I’ll talk much about how I made the boat because I’m not super excited about how it turned out, but this has made me want to build one more boat, but better next time :)

Sailing on the driveway!

Sailing on the driveway!

I tied my keys to my belt with a string so I wouldn't  lose them if I sunk

I tied my keys to my belt with a string so I wouldn’t lose them if I sunk.

We can fit the sail, rudder, lifejackets, and paddles into the boat to walk it into the water

We can fit the sail, rudder, life jackets, and paddles into the boat to walk it into the water.

2 people are close in the boat

2 people are close in the boat.

She floats!

She floats!

Knit Poinsettia

A few years ago, we went to Maker Fair and I saw a booth with knit flowers. I thought they were cool, but since I knew how to knit, I didn’t see why I would buy them when I could make some. The woman working there gave me a business card and told me she actually sold the patterns online at Ohmay Designs. I bought the pattern and was surprised when I got another email from her a month later; she had added a pattern to the set I bought and emailed me the extra pattern for free! So while I usually stick with free patterns, this was a good experience.

Despite the good experience, I just never got around to actually using the patterns. Then I was looking through various knitting patterns on my computer for Christmas present ideas and came across the poinsettia and thought I would make it for my mom. I paired it with a shorter version of the bolo cord so that it could be hung on a doorknob, a cabinet, etc. I attached green versions of the large poinsettia leaves to the ends of the cord so the flower wouldn’t slide off as easily.

The finished cord.

The finished cord.

Mom is a fan of red poinsettias, so I did make a color change. The petals are each knit individually and then steamed flat. I’m pretty sure there’s a correct way to do this, but I just boiled a pot of water on the stove and held the petals over the steam with a fondue fork one at a time. It worked quite nicely.

The small petals looked like this once I steamed them.

Once I had made and steamed all of the petals, I attached the big petals to each other using red yarn and a yarn needle.

It's starting to look like a flower!

It’s starting to look like a flower!

Then I sewed the small petals on top of this, sewing the overlapping edges flat.

It definitely needs something in the center.

It definitely needs something in the center.

Next, I knit the center pod as described in the pattern and sewed it in the center of the petals.

The flower is finished!

The flower is finished!

Then I added a small crochet chain to the back to slide over the bolo and the decoration was done! Last year Mom sent me a poinsettia for Christmas and this year I sent her one.

The final project.

Poinsettias always make me think of Christmas.