Allow Me To Vent

This has been a frustrating week.  Pictures have disappeared from my hard drive.  MS Word has chosen to save parts of documents and not others.   I spent time circling the gas pumps trying to figure out how to get the fuel tank on the rental car to the correct side to pump gas. And what do you call it when you’re about to finish sewing something, prick your finger with the needle, and bleed on the fabric?  (It’s  a good thing I know the cold water dab don’t rub trick.)   At this point, I  could write a book entitled  Tips and Tricks for Idiots.  And to top it off, I have to start brushing Boris’s teeth.  Oh, the humanity.

Which brings me to the matter of the vent.  My studio is in my basement and I would like to be able to solder and  make glass beads in the winter time.  But the ventilation is not so good with all the windows shut.  So I decided to get me some ventilation.  I first asked my plumber who was doing some work on my house and he proposed something that was expensive and more like the kind of ventilation you would need in a dairy barn with 500 lactating cows. Except that I love my plumber (how many of you can say that?)  And maybe it was my fault. Maybe I asked for too much. I have a habit of doing that to men.   Just ask my husband. Or my plumber.  

Plan B-YouTube.  Mymy there are a lot of YouTubers out there growing vegetables. And flowers.  In tents,  There is a lot of information on how to ventilate your <cough, cough> crops.  If you don’t like gardening,  jeweler Nancy Hamilton has a good tute on how to set up a fume extractor  system for jewelry soldering here.  There are also a lot of instructive images on that famous time sucker, Pinterest. Very few how-tos, though.   I didn’t know how to connect duct work or how to install an in-line fan. But when has a lack of knowledge ever stopped me?  I got married,  didn’t I?

Here’s what I did.  But first, allow me to vent.  Will you look at this window? It’s 14 X 6. Whoever heard of a window like that except in South Philly? It’s probably the only one in the world.  I needed to cut something to fit said window, and then cut a 4 inch circle out of that to put the dryer hose through. I grabbed an old plastic  storage container, cut it to size,  made the hole,  got a vent collar at Home Depot and I had my hole to the outside.



I needed an inline fan with a speed controller that was not too noisy.    I ordered this    from Amazon waited two weeks for it and then they cancelled my order and gave the option to reorder.  Wha?  I asked them, how about you give me free overnight delivery and I order it again.  They said yes and it came the next day.


Now, I don’t know the numbskull who designs these things, but there was no room for a drill or screwdriver to allow me to attach it to the wall.  So I had to brace a couple of stud scraps, run the screws through backwards, fasten the stud to the wall and   fasten the fan to the stud with nuts.  Nuts I to that say.


While I am venting,  I learned that the adjustable clamps are next to useless for attaching duct reducers to the fan or ducks to ducts.  Or ducts to ducks or ducts to ducts.  But I learned (through thorough research those indoor gardeners know everything!) about self tapping machine screws.  Except mine would not self tap.  They were probably worried about going blind.  Do you even get that joke?  I ended up making the holes for them and all was well.


The speed controller which is also the on-off switch  is off to the side.  



Here is the completed venting system.  I put a blast gate on the other side of the T duct because I might want to extend the system.  I then have to put another blast gate on the bottom of the T duct to close it off.  That project comes under the heading of maybe later or maybe never.  My favorite part of the system is the hood with is a trash-picked wok cover that I cut a hole in.  I got the rest of the stuff from Amazon and Home Depot.



How does it work?  Look at the picture.  I’m happy.  All the parts even with my mistakes cost about $100.00.




Dyed in the Wool

In my never ending quest for thrifty crafting, I decided to buy some white Ice Wool yarn from a knitter who was thinning down her stash.   Why white?  So I can dye it any color I want.  Now I admit that I will not be able to match a yarn dye lot exactly, but if I want to make something of a certain color, all I have to do is color the yarn.  I’d already been doing this with white roving for felting.

1 Before Yarn and bowl water and vinegar

I remember my mother dying things in the washing machine with RIT dye.  And I have seen my fiber friends work magic in vats with purchased professional dyes or even dyes that they have made themselves.

2 Soaking

It’s a lot easier to dye yarn in a microwave oven, especially if you’re doing small amounts like I am here.  I tied the skein in the picture above so it would not get tangled and I soaked it for about a half hour to 45 minutes in warm water so it would be more absorbent.  I added about a tablespoon of citric acid to the water.  You can also use vinegar.  This softens the yarn and  will help the dye set when you add it.

3 Food Colors

Wilton’s food color makes a great dye for natural fabrics like wool.  You can also use Kool Aid but you won’t have the range of colors.

4 Add dye

I like to add dye with a wooden chopstick.   A little goes a long way.   Another method is to mix the dye with water in a separate container and add it to the big container.   This will give you a more uniform dye job.  Remember to wear plastic gloves if you don’t want to dye your hands as well and be sure to cover anything that the dye would stain.  Which is pretty much everything.  I’ve used a clear Pyrex bowl to hold my project, and that’s what I recommend to you.

5 In microwave

Microwave on high for 8 minutes at a time and then remove from the oven.  You can add more dye at this stage.  And be careful because the bowl will be hot!  Use oven mitts.  You don’t need to cover the dye bath.

6 After first heat

I went for a hand painted kind of look

7 All color absorbed from Water

Let the wool sit for about 15 minutes.  Keep repeating this process until the water is clear.  Let the dye bath cool and squeeze (don’t rub or wring- you don’t want felt) the water out of the yarn and hang up to dry.

8 Dyed Wool

The finished product.

Lessons Learned from Tiling a Backsplash

The tile comes in pizza boxes!

The tile comes in pizza boxes!

Preping the wall

Before any great endeavor, you must prepare the substrate.


Tiling  a back splash is messy

in progress

A promising start is just a promising start and not a prediction of what will happen down the road

Popsicle sticks

You can always find a use for popsicle sticks

Tile cutter

Simple tools will do the job


Here are some “after” pictures


I am glad it’s done.  I can see every mistake, but overall, it’s not bad


And I did it all by myself!

To much work makes you mean

Installing tile is hardwork and can make you mean


But Plumpton will always love me