Thursday, October 23, 2008

Chessboard progress

Finally have been able to do some more work on this project, although I have been spacing it out over the week.

The first cut

Tuesday: I needed four dowels, 62.5 cm each. Of course, that's just over 24.5 inches, which meant that I couldn't get two out of a four-foot dowel (strange how lumber is still sold in Imperial sizes here in metric Canada), and was lucky enough to find three-foot ones at Canadian Tire. Note that I'm cutting a little longer than the marked length -- I generally do this when working with dowels so that I can sand them down smooth and eliminate any minor splintering when sawing.

Rough fit

So I got all four cut, and thought I'd take a quick look to see how they would look with my copper elbows. The ends fit fine, even before sanding, so I figured that a quick once-over with some 180 grit would be all I needed to prep for staining.

Sanded and stained

Wednesday: Because I have been worked a lot with oak in the past (with light/night, among other projects), it was a pretty easy decision to stick with it.

One of the things I like about oak is that it's predictable with the stain I've been using (Varathane's Mission Oak), looks pretty good even just clear-coated (Minwax Satin Finish Polyurethane), and smells heavenly when I sand it.

I had originally planned to do one coat of stain, followed by a coat of polyurethane, but given the dowels aren't exactly going to be submitted to a lot of wear or exposure, I think they look fine with just the stain.

Dry fit

Thursday (today): I still need to properly block the knitting, as the vagarities of my handspun and my knitting style (hey, I'm human!) have resulting in some not-exactly-perfectly-square squares, but I thought I should check first to see how much room I'd have to stretch the ones that need tweaking.

The answer is "not much" and I'm OK with that. I'm going to wait until I've got one chesspiece knitted before I get rigourous about it.

It's nice that everything fits pretty much as I've designed it, with the dowels snug but not tight in the sleeves, the copper elbows comfortably on the dowel ends, and the knitting relatively straight. Fingers crossed that the pieces go as quickly.

And in the post yesterday arrived the found clumps of wool (white and dark) from the Isle of Lewis that Melissa Jay Craig retrieved for me on her trip there over the summer. They're a little felted together, but not irrepairably so, I hope: a gentle soaking and light teasing should loosen them up.

I'm going to needlefelt the dark to outline some of the cables and other bits on one of the kings, which echos how the originals were coloured to determine which side each piece belonged to.

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