Spun Yarn #43
Renovations...will they ever end?
Some of you might have been wondering about our home renovations.
We started them last summer, having the office overhauled, then the kitchen and the family room. The simple finishing touch was to be the
resurfacing of the hallway floor.
Back in October, John and I had emptied all the cupboards, lifted the old vinyl and tiles, and leveled the subfloor in preparation for the new tiles that were to be laid. They arrived, but not the ones we had ordered. We chose different ones. I left on a teaching trip, hoping the tiles might miraculously be installed before my return. Ha! Though it felt like I had been away for ages, half of the tiles were still on back-order. I was not a happy camper. In an attempt to hurry things along and be ready for my December Open House and Christmas, we decided to make a compromise and chose a tile of which they had plenty in stock. The flooring guys turned up in a matter of days. We were going to be done with all the mess and get back to normal!
After they had unloaded the tiles into the hall, the guys announced that the sub-floor which we had so carefully prepared was subpar. We could either remove a layer ourselves, or they could lay a new sheet on top (for a 'small' extra charge). Yes, you can see it unfolding: here comes compromise number two.
My husband and I debated our options: we had floor guys on site, tiles in the hall and time was ticking. With our own busy schedules, it could take us days before we could get this expensive, messy job done ourselves. We opted to have them put down the extra layer and accepted that we would have to shorten several doors and make different room transitions. Thus distracted, we never thought to raise the subject of the baseboards. The flooring guys never mentioned them either. The new sub-floor layer was fastened down with a million screws.
Next the floor guys asked about the direction of the tiles. Our original design specified that they should run athwartships (across) the main hall. They insisted that this wasn't suitable for THESE tiles (even though they would have to run that way in the other hall, the whole thing being an L shape). The downhill spiral continued: here was compromise number three. We let them lay the tiles their way.
My computer specialist happened to come by that same day and commented on how quickly the tiles were being put down and that they weren't being back-buttered. The compound was only being applied to the floor. I've never laid tile myself; I didn't know if this procedure is vital; they were the flooring pros, surely they should know!
Feeling like I was being held hostage in the kitchen and thereby unable to see in detail what was taking place, I was getting a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. The gaps along the sides were huge. We'd need much more than the 1/4" round baseboards to hide them! Even I could cut tiles closer than that!
The tiling was completed by the next day. I was already feeling pretty disheartened by the whole business when they told me that the colour grout we had chosen was far too dark. I caved and made our fourth and final compromise. I felt a complete failure. I had allowed myself to be pushed around, they were laying the floor they wanted and not the one we had chosen. Had they just put down the tiles the way we had asked, removed the baseboards and put the grout in of the colour we wished, I'd have been able to accept the floor and live with it.
John was not thrilled either, but we decided to leave things in abeyance for the holiday season. We reinstated the toilet, filled the cupboards and got on with our busy December. The floor loomed under us; it didn't get any prettier. We judiciously kept our eyes focussed straight ahead or upwards.
Into January, after the flooring company representatives had come and gone, with nothing but vague noises from that quarter, I asked John to make the decision as to whether to hide the mess with specially milled woodwork or to rip it all up. I could learn to ignore it, but if he wasn't happy I was never going to be either!
He reached a decision this past Saturday at 10am. We decided that NOW was the least inconvenient time to tackle it. The tiles were up by noon (after having started at 11:00!) Most of them came up in one piece, they were hardly even stuck down. Now I understand the value of back-buttering! Having seen how poorly these tiles were attached makes me much more determined to confront the flooring firm. The flooring guys fussed and pressured us about all sorts of inessential details, but not what was really important. A 10 minute site visit beforehand would have allowed us to have the floor properly ready and someone might have picked up on the baseboards. Maybe we wouldn't be in this mess.
We decided to remove all three layers of sub floor in order to be ready for whatever lies ahead. I'm not thrilled by the dust, dirt, work and descent back into chaos, but in the words of Mike Holmes, "It's going to be done right."
At this point, if you are not already sound asleep, you might well ask: how has this led me to my aforementioned plumbing lesson? It all happened during a moment of almost complete exhaustion, as we were trying to get the laundry equipment back into a usable condition before calling it a day. I was attempting to remove a lump of cement that had been used to fill a gap in the tiles around the laundry sink pipes. This chunk, unfortunately, turned out to be the most substantial piece of construction the flooring guys had laid. It was resistant to hammering and wouldn't chip or crack. I, in wisdom only granted to the terminally tired, decided to tackle it with a cold chisel from underneath. Never once did it cross my mind that it might slip and touch a pipe. One good "whack" and I found myself getting soaked by a geyser of water! Whoops. This could have meant no water/hot shower until the pipe is blanked, but thankfully, my well-prepared husband has the necessary equipment on hand for me to fix the leak. And this is when I got my plumbing lesson. Never done that before!
In Knitting News,
Plans for 2012...I've had to simplify my teaching schedule this spring for family reasons, and will only be
seen at Madrona Fiber Arts
in Tacoma, WA in mid-February and not again until April, when I will be teaching at
Midwest Masters in Wisconsin.
I'm hoping to use my extra time at home not to murder the convalescent, but to make progress on several new exciting projects including:
Website updates ...
Moonstone Scarf (#4101) by Lucy Neatby
Yarn:Fingering-weight to Aran
Spindrift Necklet and Wristlets (#4102) by Lucy Neatby
Yarn:100 grams handpainted Fingering-weight yarn such as Cat's Pajamas or Celestial Merino for either project
Snowflake DK Baby Bonnet (#1108) by Lucy Neatby
A cozy bonnet for a special baby. This double-knit hat is totally reversible; knit in Cat's Pajamas, it will keep your baby's head warm. From the I-cord straps to the heart-emblazoned crown, this sweet little hat is knitted entirely in one piece. It is, of course, perfectly reversible.
Yarn:Cat's Pajamas Mottled Solids or any other Fingering weight yarn
Extreme Double Knitting by Alasdair Post-Quinn
The Power of Swatching
Very interestingly, the Snowflake Baby Bonnet test knitters all made the same comment: "I don't normally make a swatch but this one is
worthwhile." It tends to be true that experienced knitters go light on the swatching stage, either due to familiarity with the
yarn, the stitch, or the fact that their knitting normally comes out spot on.
A Special Valentine Offer
All images and text Copyright ©2000 - 2012; Lucy Neatby, Tradewind Knitwear Designs