My Dad's tough to shop/craft for as well, but I've found that when I make him things, he really digs it. Since your Pops likes to putter (as does mine) if you can knit, a nice, yummy scarf, maybe made from Lion Brand Homespun (quick and supersoft!) with fringe is lovely. A galpal of mine has the same "Dad's hard to shop for" problem, too, so she made him a little book, where, over the course of the year, he could fill in blanks regarding great gift ideas for him. Hope this helps!
I've seen some really cool pillowcovers made out of felt that was cut into long strips and painted with metallic fabric paint. The front of the pillow was knitted and the back was a solid piece of felt. It was very, very cool. (and cheap!) I've got a pile of fleece I'm goint to knit into a blanket...or a sweater...it's just got to cool down a bit first. Summer's not the best time to knit with fleece or plastic bags...sweaty legs...agh.
I used a couple of coats of a water-based varnish on my needles and then sealed them with a coat of varathane. I've only tea stained fabric (to get that vintage look) so I'm not sure what results you'd get from going it on wood. I know a couple of gals who used spraypaint on their needles, and as long as you seal them (with varathane again) there shouldn't be any chipping or paint colour rub off. I used wooden toy car wheels for the ends of my needles (just screwed them in through the holes in the tires...drill the hole first...it's easier).
I've been having the same problem with dry hands. Knitting with bamboo needles is a great option for a new knitter. If I hadn't bought my Denise set, I'd still be with 'em. My knitting guru at my LYS said that if my hands get dry, to just slather on the handcream (she didn't specify what kind, but lanolin-based lotions are always great), rub it in and go. I asked if lotions would mess up my knitting, and she said that you have to either block (natural fibers) or wash (everything else) the garment when you're done anyway, so no harm, no foul. I've been doing this ever since, and haven't had anything go "kablooey" yet. Best of luck!
I actually purchased the book (Knitting With Wire by Nancie M. Wiseman). It's great and so much fun! It walks you through each project with step-by-step instruction, which I desparately need to get any project done correctly. She covers hand knitting, Viking knitting and machine knitting, so there's something for every level. I've mastered the hand knitting (my focus is on necklaces and bracelets), and am on to Viking knitting. I'd definately recommend the book. Just one word of caution: keep your tension light! It's waaay more interesting.
I'm horrible at doing math properly... can anyone help with dowel sizes for size 17, 19, 35 and 50 needles? My dad has generously offered to chop down the dowels to a manageable size and I'd like to only make one trip to Home Depot... Thx!
I've got a question and I'd love help! I went to the Pendleton Woolen Mills Outlet (here in soggy 'ol Portland, OR) and got a great deal on a pound of 100% wool yarn. Trouble is, it's compacted and I've got to wash it so it'll fluff up. I'd like to wash it up in my bathtub and hang it to dry (vs. the washing machine...I'm afraid mine will eat it. It eats socks, too). Does anyone have any insight/tips on how to do this best? (water temperature, etc.)