The Easy Friday List, August 24

Friday should be easy. These are items that have made my life a little easier this past week. Maybe they can make your life easier, too.

HP48GX Calculator: I love my calculator. I don’t want to geek out about my calculator but well. I’m going to geek out about my calculator. So if you don’t want to hear all about how Reverse Polish Notation (RPN) kicks algebra’s butt, you need not read further; just skip ahead to the fun and fluffy discussion on the Knifty Knitter loom below. It’s OK. Calculators aren’t terribly interesting to most people.

I find them most interesting, particularly mine. It makes my life easier in so many ways, I’m not sure I can list them all here without putting at least half of you asleep. (The other half are either already asleep or have moved to the Knifty Knitter paragraph below.)

Before I bought it as an engineering student, I feared that I would never get the hang of RPN; I’d heard so many horror stories about fellow students forking over the $350 for the thing and not being able to use it. I feared that I’d use it for 4+ years of college and never touch it again. I feared that it would be obsolete in a few months and I’d have to replace it. I feared that I wouldn’t really need it.

It took me all of ten minutes before I realized that RPN is a brown paper lunch bag filled with time-saving, easy, wondrous, sweet goodies that won’t make you fat. For my calculus classes, it was a Godsend. When I was an engineer and used it daily, it was necessary. For quilting, it’s a small miracle. The calculator can convert units, so figuring out how many yards of fabric I need to buy when I know how many pieces of a certain size in inches is nothing. And I don’t have to remember area equations, since they’re all already in the calculator. I just have to plug in the number and it solves for unknown variables all by itself.

HP48GX Calculator

Here’s an action shot of my calculator (after it turned itself off… D’oh!). Pretty… the calculator, I mean. The fabric, too.

As for obsolescence… well, they stopped making this calculator in 2003 and people are still giving it 5 star reviews on Amazon. You can buy one used for about $150. Considering that I paid about $200 new for mine in 1996 because of a sale and a student discount (I’ve always been thrifty), I’m feeling pretty smug about that investment. Also, the new HP50G sells for around $100 right now (though I think it’s on sale). Seriously.

I won’t get into the stack; we’d be here all day. (I’m serious. The stack is the thing I love most about it. So don’t get me started. You’ve been warned.)

All in all, this wonderful piece of computing power has been making my life easier for 16 years. I love it. I’d cry lots if anything ever happened to it. Knock on wood.

Knifty Knitter: There are an awful lot of people who hate these looms. I don’t know why. I love them.

I can’t knit. Using the traditional two knitting stick things (needles?), I can’t knit. I’ve tried. And I hate it. Back when the knitting craze first began I wanted to knit so much. For the first time in my life, my normally-able hands just couldn’t pick it up. Frustration? Check. Anger? Check. An unreasonable desire to smash an isle full of pretty knitting stick thingies and assorted knitting accoutrements into toothpicks? CHECK!

Hard feelings? Check. Alas.

I mean, I can crochet. But it doesn’t carry the same panache as knitting these days. It’s not cool. I don’t worry about being cool (obviously) and I never have. But I do like to keep in touch with the latest craft crazes. Crafters are my people. You gotta keep up with your peeps, yes?

Enter the Knifty Knitter!

The Knifty Knitter at fig+fence HQ.

The yarn is “Ocean” by Lion.

I can knit! And I don’t have to tell anyone that I did it on a loom. (Except, you know, I just told all of you.) Everyone can assume that I am using those god-awful pointy knitting stick thingies I still despise and wish into a million little smashed pieces. Ahem.

If you get one of these looms, I highly advise buying a book of patterns to go with it. It will simplify your life. Alternatively, you can watch YouTube videos. There are tons.

 

The Easy Friday List, August 17

Fridays should be easy. Here’s a list of items that have made my life easier this past week. Maybe they can make your life easier, too.

Ball Point Needles: I don’t sew jersey often, but with all of the hemming and taking in of stretchy clothes that I’ve been doing lately, I’ve been using these ball point needles often. I love them. I haven’t had to pick out stitches nearly as often as I usually do when I sew clothes. Also, I haven’t had a pucker in my fabric in some time. So I’m definitely recommending these if you’re sewing jersey.

Daylight Floor Lamp: These things can be hideously expensive. I found one at Big Lots  some time ago cheap. I use it constantly to check fabric selections against each other. I also use it any time I’m hand sewing painting macrame-ing scrapbooking beading anything-ing; the eyes have it easier when there’s enough light to, you know, see. My poor abused eyes need all the help they can get. It also makes a fabulous, if somewhat expensive, booklight.

Vitamin E Stick: Fall is practically here; my skin can prove it. The cheap-o vitamin E stick I get for about a buck at Wal-Mart helps all of the chapped and dried skin that appears about this time of year. Cuticles, lips, knuckles, knees, ankles, ears, whatever. A vitamin E stick can keep all these parts and more from becoming more of a problem than they have to be. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my difficult skin: if I don’t take care of skin problems when they appear, they’ll only get worse when I ignore them. These sticks are a great way to keep any dry skin from becoming a huge problem (which can be exacerbated by handling fabric, yarn, and thread).

 

 

Shindig

Getting the house ready for a last-minute family get-together is a strange thing. I mean, it’s family. They already know about all the crazy habits and hobbies I’m going to try to hide while I’m cleaning the house.

They already know I have more craft paraphernalia than any other ten women. (Hey, it’s my job!) They know that I have never outgrown my love of games. (I blame my uncle for this; we may be related by marriage, but osmosis was at work or something when I was born ’cause I get it from him. Though, mine is more video and his is more card. Still.) And they know about my fabric hoard and my craft book collection my love of books and my Toot and Puddle collection and my cookie jars and my white pitchers and my strange reluctance to throw away Ikea and Coldwater Creek catalogs.

So why bother to try to hide all that if they know? Maybe they forgot.

So I shoved everything away like a mad woman and hoped no one would look under the bed or lean against the hall closet door too hard; that sucker was packed tight and could blow at the slightest provocation.

And then there are the spiders… we have a spider problem in this neighborhood. I find and destroy spiderwebs daily inside the house. When I don’t move the car for a few days, there will be webs all over it, too. If I head outside, I have to keep a lookout or I’ll walk into a web. They’re not the poisonous kind that bite, but they are scary nonetheless. The entire week leading up to the get-together I worried about the spiders freaking some kid out.

So the family came and I dithered thinking about all the stuff I hid. I tried to be cool and calm about finding a dead spider on the hearth when the house was at its fullest and busiest.

At some point I forgot about the hidden messes and the dead spiders and the dry lunch meat. I just enjoyed my family.

All in all the family shindig Saturday turned out great. Very little politicking. No blood spilling (though that prospect was a bit chancy at one point). Lots of laughing.