This week I installed the LED light strip I bought in December in its permanent position. It has neatly fitted along the side and front edges of the underside of the mantelpiece – a 2m long strip was the perfect length. Viewed from a position level with the mantelpiece, as in the photo above, the LEDs are just visible but they wash light down over the stone lintel. (Please excuse all the messy paper in the fireplace, that’s junk mail waiting to be burnt when the fire is next lit.) The LEDs have quite a sharp cut-off angle. Viewed from even slightly above mantelpiece height, you can’t see them at all, just their light output. But they are much more obvious when sitting in front of the fire looking up and provide quite enough light to read by.
To install this strip, I first made a slot in the side of the adjacent built-in cupboard, big enough to feed the tape through, and replaced a twin 13A socket plate in that cupboard with one that has an integral USB charger. Then I worked out where the two right-angled corners needed to be, marked them on the LED tape and folded them with the backing tape still in place.
These strips are quite robust, but it did take some careful measurement and planning to avoid having folds where there’s an LED or a resistor. I also wanted to avoid having an LED in a double layer, if possible, to prevent overheating. I cut a length of dummy LED strip out of paper, and marked the LEDs, resistors and copper pads on it, to decide precisely where was best to make the two folds needed for each corner, and in which order, before I did it for real.
Having done that, I removed the backing tape from the corner areas and used the LED strip’s own sticky backing to secure the folds, supplemented with a little superglue. Then I cleaned the underside of the wooden mantelpiece with white spirit and stuck the strip down, starting at one of the corners. Finally, I added a few drops of superglue here and there, because the wisdom of the internet (is there such a thing?) tells me that the sticky backing doesn’t do very well in the longer term when the strip is mounted face downwards.
I’m pleased with the result. The LED strip cost under £3 and I already had the socket plate, meaning that I have brightened up one end of the room at a bargain price and made it possible to read in front of the fire without having to lug a standard lamp over there. The strip is such low power (4W) that I intend to leave it on every evening during these dark winter months – normally I’m a stickler for turning off any light that isn’t actually needed at that moment. I shall definitely be installing more of these strips around the house.
Flowers-in-a-row baby top
As per usual I have lots of things I want to knit for myself, and the yarn needed, but I haven’t quite decided how to do any of them. I’m planning a zip-front, fitted cardigan with a big collar, a squishy jacket something like Flaum, and a tank top in some slightly mouldy Shetland 4-ply that I’ve had since forever, to name but three. Oh, and a couple of pairs of socks. In some cases I need to choose between two or three similar patterns, in others I haven’t been able to find the perfect pattern and will have to design the garment myself to get what I want. But in the meantime I need something to take to knitting group and to keep me from idleness in the evenings. I’ve started a simple baby top to fill the knitting void created by the completion of my silk scarf last week.
I’m using a pattern that I have recommended (with success) to beginner-knitters in the past but have never before knitted myself: All-In-One Sleeveless Baby Top. It makes a really simple, top-down, cap-sleeved baby cardigan and comes in several sizes. I’m knitting the 9-12 month size, despite the fact that the baby in question was only born in September, because I can’t see that it will be warm enough to wear this top before June at the earliest.
I found the best part of a 50g ball of primrose yellow DK, bought in 1995 to make a bedjacket for an elderly relative. (Memo to self: really must try to turn over the yarn stash at least once per decade. Especially if I don’t want any more of it to go mouldy.) But that’s not enough, and the only other baby-suitable DK I have is white. I had a look through others’ Ravelry projects to see what two-colour versions have been knitted and came across one that incorporated a pretty flower stitch that really stands out when worked in a contrast colour. It’s called Flowers in a Row Stitch and is worked over 4 rows, one of which involves wrapping the working yarn twice around a bunch of long stitches that were created in the previous row. I’ve never done a stitch like this before, but I’m always game for something new. There are online tutorials for a number of variants of the stitch, with different numbers of long stitches and different numbers of extra yarn-arounds to create those lengthened stitches, but I plumped for one from KnittingStitchPatterns.com.
This is the result so far. (It’s knitted top down, so is the wrong way up in this photo.)
I shall put a row of white flowers around the hem too, and maybe another row an inch or so above the hem if I’m running out of the yellow yarn that I’m using for the lower half.