Wednesday, April 05, 2006

I am my own fleece

And now...something which has virtually nothing to do with knitting. Brace yourself.

I have very long hair. (Prior to the 3" maintenance trim I gave myself this past weekend, which chopped its length back so that it now comes only to my waist, I had even longer hair, but I'm NOT BITTER. Honest.) This makes me the natural enemy of:

  1. floors which wish to remain clean
  2. vacuum cleaners.


I don't think I shed any more than the next person, but because my hair is twelve times longer, there is a proportionally greater amount of hair on the floor of any home in which I reside. It's very frustrating. More frustrating is the fact that really long hair winds itself tighter than a drum around the rotating thingie of any vacuum cleaner. This causes the thingie to stop rotating within five minutes of starting to vacuum. If you don't realise right away that this has happened (hints include a slightly different sound from the machine and reduced effectiveness at picking stuff up), this causes the drive belt to heat up in one spot (which smells delightful, let me tell ya) and then snap.

When I lived with my parents, my father (who's responsible for cleaning the floors) would complain constantly about the 'hair problem'. I even once managed to break my mom's computer chair because my hair clogged up the casters and destroyed them, thus rendering the chair un-rollable. In my house, floors are my responsibility, so I don't hear as much complaining (at least, not out loud). But it is a constant source of frustration. Unless I am willing to go over the floors inch-by-inch (literally) with the stick attachment of our vacuum (which I have actually done, on special occasions), I will never have perfectly clean floors.

If I could only manage to get the hair off the floors before vacuuming, my problem would be solved. (There would also be the possibility of then having enough 'fibre' to knit sweaters for everyone I know.)

A tiny lint roller is obviously just as impractical as the stick attachment of my vacuum. However, I thought I had the answer recently when I saw an ad for the Swiffer Carpet Flick. This is a broom-type gadget into which you slide disposable cards which are sticky on both sides. Then you run the thing over the carpet, and dirt either sticks to the sticky on the bottom of the card, or, thanks to the electrostatic energy generated by rubbing the Flick across the carpet, 'jumps' into the reservoir and sticks to the sticky on the top of the card.

So, despite our fervent hatred of the whole 'clean with it and throw it away' industry that has sprung up with frightening proliferation, DH and I bought one. It's not bad. It picks up teeny tiny things that the vacuum doesn't always get, especially in the high-traffic areas where the carpet is not as 'tall' because it's been trodden on so often. But...the Flick utterly fails to pick up hair. UTTERLY.

In desperation, I got to thinking...what I really need is some kind of carpet rake. Nearing the end of my rope, I tried hunting on the Internet for things like 'long hair vacuum clean floor', and I came up with what appears to be the perfect solution: a rubber broom. Such as this one. It can sweep hard floors and carpet, and creates an electrostatic charge that picks up hair and which makes dirt on floors stick to the broom instead of being swept along more than you meant them to travel.

Monday I bought one on eBay. I paid for it instantly (PayPal, I love you) and the seller emailed me back right away to tell me he was leaving the house in a few minutes and would ship my broom then.

I know it is beyond sad that I am excited about getting a freakin' broom...but I am. I'm so excited that I'm blogging about it even though it really has nothing to do with knitting (beyond meaning that if it does turn out to be the solution, I will be picking a lot fewer hairs out of my yarn, which would be really, really nice). I hope so badly that it works the way I want it to work.

Stay tuned.

Garden Shawl for MIL
The last time I talked about this project, I mentioned that I'd taken the needle out of the stitches (replacing it with another needle, of course) to fiddle with it in the hopes of making it relax a bit. I also mentioned that I promptly lost track of where I put the needle...but this past weekend, I found it. (Rejoicing ensued.)

The reason I took the needle out in the first place was that it was DRIVING ME MAD! I mean, don't get me wrong, I was delighted to discover that I had a 3.5mm circular in my collection, because it meant not having to hunt for one to continue this shawl. However, it was stiff and twisty, making the knitting extremely awkward and not fun. Since a lack of fun is the crack of doom for any of my knitting projects, I had to fix this.

The situation came to a head when I found an absolutely fantastic thread on the Knitty board, which I signed up with a few weeks ago. This thread had tips and tricks for 'relaxing' circular needles. This made me sit right in my seat and pay very close attention. There were some good-sounding suggestions in there, some more labour-intensive than others.

The trick that did it for me was the one where you stretch the needle out and run a hair dryer (on a hot setting) along it. (Although the trick where you hold the needle vertically and run boiling water down it also sounds promising - but that was more work than I was willing to put out unless absolutely necessary.) When I did the hair dryer thing, the needle indeed became more limp and relaxed into a circle instead of a spiral. When it cooled, it stopped being so limp, but it wasn't too bad and it was still a circle. I put it back in the shawl stitches and continued the knitting. The going was much easier. I was very pleased.

Since then, I have moved forward quite a bit:

leaf pattern

flower pattern

I'm now into the last leaf pattern chart and am a bit more than 20% done the body of the shawl. I am liking this very much, even though I'm starting to get bored with the (interminable!) leaf pattern...fortunately, it ends soon.

I'm also thinking that my original idea that I could do this in seven weeks was beyond insane. The Schedule calls for doing the body in five weeks and the edging in two. This means doing 20% of the body per week. Based on my recent performance I estimate that I could manage 2% of the body per weekday if I'm lucky. It only takes basic math to figure out that this means the body will take ten weeks instead of five. I have no idea if I'm right about the edging taking only two weeks.

Don't tell my husband.

(Good thing I'm ahead of schedule, eh?)

A Very Harlot Poncho for moi
I spent a half-decent amount of time over the weekend revelling in the glorious softness of the fibre as it carressed its way through my fingers working on this, but there's not much progress to speak of.

Textured cardigan for baby Harding
Work has stalled a bit on the test pattern, although I have crawled forward a bit since my last blog entry.

(P.S. to Gillian's comment about the meme in my last entry - the header I lifted from Kelly's blog said 'Seven things that attract me to my mate', as opposed to 'Seven things that attract my mate to me', so I took the instructions at their word and talked about my assets instead of his. Which was actually easier, because boiling a list of great things about my DH down to just seven would be really tough...although in the interests of full disclosure and in an attempt to avoid giving readers a saccharine overload, I'm sure I could come up with a good 'Seven things about my mate that put my teeth on edge' list, too. As could he about me. As I'm sure many of you know, these things tend to happen to people who live in close proximity. :) Fortunately the good far outweighs the bad.)


Ella said...

I know how it is with the hair. I make Irish Dance dresses for a living and was constantly sewing it into dress seams and getting it stuck in the applique, or cutting off chunks with the rotary cutter!Last summer I had a trim and got rid of 8",now I braid it daily which helps, and since it's back to waist length already I'll keep on braiding it.
Like to know if the broom works, please keep us updated.

Susan said...

I have one of those brooms (or one very similar). Love it. It does a great job on rugs and carpets. When I'm feeling very virtuous I sweep the carpets instead of vacuuming - good exercise and cleaner carpets. It doesn't get all the hair and stuff that gets wrapped around carpet fibres, but it gets an awful lot of them. The broom is one of the more successful "as seen on TV!" purchases. Though I don't think it was on Australian TV, we bought it from a demonstration at a shopping centre.

The J said...

One of the great side effects of hardwood floors - I don't have to deal with that anymore. (I won't comment on the in-the-yarn and in-the-seam problems or the curses from the other person living here...) I can still vividly remember the burnt-rubber smell from the vaccuum cleaner (and how hard it was to cut off the hair wrapped around the cylinder). Right now I'm attempting a 50-strokes-with-a-dense-brush every day to see if I can contain it a bit!


Mrs. M. said...

I still think that the wording calls for a list of the assets that cause you to be attracted to him, not vice versa. But, hey, you're the linguistics gal. :-P

My hair and the cat hair does the same thing to our vacuum cleaner. I can't yank the tightly-wound strands off; I need to slice them! So now I go over the rug with a lint brush before vacuuming, and that at least gets the cat hair up, but...sigh.

rachel said...

I have longish hair - it was longer 2 weeks ago when I ha dit cut for the first time in 6 years, I find the only way to shift hair out of my carpets is to use an old stiff plastic bristled hairbrush - time consuming so I rarely do it, luckily I live in a very small flat(apartment) and most of the carpet is covered in furniture!