Ruminations on knitting at 3 a.m. and home of the Giganto-blanket.

Ruminations about knitting at 3 a.m.

Frogging on NPR’s All Things Considered

I only have time for a quick post because I’m jumping on a transatlantic flight soon, but here’s the link to my interview with Melissa Block on NPR’s All Things Considered that aired today!

I’m at the tail end of an absolutely breathtaking visit to Scotland. Here’s a picture of me knitting my Take Cahuenga Shawl in front of Ben Nevis, the largest mountain in the UK:

laura-birek-knitting

So what do you think? Did I explain frogging properly?

New Patterns: Band Camp + Take Cahuenga

New Knitting Patterns

New Knitting Patterns

Don’t you love publication day? I woke up yesterday to find my two new patterns, the Band Camp Pullover and Take Cahuenga Shawl live on the Knit Picks site.

What’s even cooler is my Band Camp Pullover not only made the cover of the Cotlin Collection book (available as a physical book or ebook) but it was featured on the Knit Picks homepage:

knitpicks

What a pleasant surprise!

I hope you like the patterns! And if you’ve bought the Band Camp Pullover and are confused about the “Woven Lace Pattern” or “Woven Lace Stitch” check out the video below. I go through it a few times so you can get a visual — there’s no audio so you can watch it any time :)

My First Handspun Skein

My first skein

My first skein

Look at that! It’s my very first handmade skein of yarn! It’s far from perfect, but I’m kinda in love with it, guys.

I started learning how to spin through this Craftsy class, and then got some first-hand instruction from a local arts teacher.

Closeup of skein

I was working with some sample superwash I got as a bonus in another order from Sheep Shed Studio, and this skein ended up being approximately 1.5oz/42g and 99yds/90m. According to this chart, that would make my yarn a dk weight, but according to wraps per inch it’s more like a fingering weight. I think the disparity is because the yarn is so uneven.

All balled up

But I don’t even care, because I feel so accomplished for creating this! In case you’re curious, I used an Ashford Classic Drop Spindle to spin this thing.

Now I have to figure out something to make with it! What do you think I should knit with this? I need suggestions!

Skein on pegboard

Cabled Giganto-Blanket – Instructions Included!

Cabled Giganto-Blanket Throw

Hi all! Just a quick note to let you know that my Giganto-Blanket Pattern available on Ravelry and Etsy now includes the chart and written instructions for the cabled version seen above.

Get your copy on Ravelry for $4.99

Or get your copy on Etsy for $5.20

If you’ve already purchased the pattern on Ravelry, you should be able to go into your library and download the new version for free. Here’s how to check for an update on Ravelry. If you’ve purchased the pattern from Etsy since July 2013, you should be able to download the new version on your Downloads page. Here’s how to do it.

If you’ve tried all the steps in the links above and STILL can’t find your updated pattern, send me a message and I’ll try to get back to you as soon as possible.

IKEA Hack – Litter Box from Byholma Chest

Ikea Cat Litter Box Hack - turn a cheap chest into custom cat box furniture in under an hour. Cool!

byholma litter box hack

I just moved to a new apartment, and while the new place is spacious and has plenty of storage, there was just no good place to put the litter box. The idea of putting it in the living room or bedroom seemed quite unsavory, and there wasn’t enough room in the bathrooms. We quickly decided the best place for it would be the upstairs hallway, but even there the box was a little too in your face, if you know what I mean. It was a bit unsightly.

Obviously, my adorable little fluffballs needed a place to do their business. I thought about buying some pre-made catbox furniture, like this one from Amazon or this one, or this smaller, bathroom-focused one, but none of them seemed right. They were either too small for my cats (Magnus is nearly 16 pounds… he needs to go on a New Year’s diet, but that’s another post), or way more money than I wanted to pay for what was a glorified sandbox.

Being crafty, I looked into DIY solutions, but most involved putting pet doors in the side of cabinets. I don’t own a saw and didn’t feel like buying one. So I ventured out to Ikea to see if there was anything I could turn into a litter box.

And there it was: Byholma! It almost sounds like “eureka!” Which is how I felt when I saw it.

Byholma from Ikea

It’s a rattan chest and each side is woven independently, so that meant I could take out the rattan on one side and the rest wouldn’t unravel. Perfect! And at $60, it was a lot cheaper than any other litter box furniture I had seen.

So here’s how I did it! It only took about an hour, but you could do it in less time if you don’t line the box. I’ll include instructions on how to line the box, but it’s not totally necessary. Also, the color I got was the “brown,” but it looks a lot darker in real life than on the Ikea site, just FYI. My pictures seem more true to color, but I imagine the stain may vary from chest to chest.

Tutorial – How to turn a Byholma Chest into a Litter Box

MATERIALS:

STEPS:

1. Unfold Byholma chest and set it standing.
Step 1

2. Cut through rattan on one side.
Decide which side you’d like to leave open. Then start snipping the rattan with the wire cutters close to the edge, working top top bottom.

Step 2

You’ll soon be able to start pulling the rattan out completely.

step 2

Continue pulling the horizontal rattan out until you’ve almost reached the bottom.

step 2

3. Pull out vertical supports.
Once you have enough of the horizontal rattan weaving removed, you can wiggle the vertical support beams out.

2014-01-07 13.11.48

They should remove fairly easily by twisting and pushing inwards. If they don’t move easily, remove more rattan before attempting. Pull out all vertical supports in the center of the panel.

2014-01-07 13.16.46

4. Clean up edges
There will likely be a lot of stray rattan clinging to the frame of the chest.

2014-01-07 13.16.52

Snip or pull to remove them to leave a smooth edge. Make sure to inspect and look for any staples poking out as well. You want to make sure the frame is clean and clear of anything that might scratch your cat.

step 4

If you’re not going to line the box, you’re done! Just put the base into the bottom and set up the litter box.

5. Line the box
I used clear shelf liner and some hot glue to line the box. My cats are slobs, and have a tendency to throw litter all over the place. They also occasionally miss the litter box completely (whoops!), so I thought lining it with something easy to clean would be important. I don’t want to know what cat-pee-soaked rattan smells like, I don’t know about you… Anywho, this was pretty simple – I just fit it in as well as I could and trimmed:

step 5

step 5

I tacked the sides down with dots of glue so they would stay upright.

Then just drop in your litter pan (a jumbo-sized one worked great in this) and you’re done. Here’s the final product:

ikea byholma litter box

ikea byholma litter box

I left the top open for a day or two so the cats could get used to it. They’ve been using it like champs so far, and it looks so much better than a normal litter box. In fact, most visitors haven’t even known that’s what it is!

2014-01-07 14.29.03

Do you have a creative litter box solution? Share in the comments below!

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