Saturday, November 19, 2011

Angora Sweater Pillow

A friend kept telling me it was easy to make a pillow from a sweater.  She has made several, but I think she is more talented than I am, so I wasn't convinced.  Wrong!  It was super easy.  My big fear -  the whole thing unraveling and falling apart - did not happen.

We bought sweaters at the local thrift shop.  This one was an angora blend which I think had been washed on the wrong setting.  It isn't completely fulled/felted, but it is rather dense.  It looks like it shrunk length-wise; maybe starting life as tunic length.  Or maybe that is how it was made.  Who knows?  I washed it when I first brought it home, on the wool cycle, so it was clean and waiting for me.

Can you see the sequins?  So not something I would wear, but for a pillow, it is just right.  I love the softness, the cables, the colour.  I think it is perfect for winter.  So cozy. 

Because the knit was so dense, I did not make an inner pillowcase for it.  I just sewed straight lines around the front panel, left an opening, turned it, stuffed it with fluff, and hand stitched it closed. 

I am already looking forward to making more pillows.  Most of mine are a decade old.  Time to freshen things up a bit. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Loving my Crafting Space

We did two major things to our basement this fall:  we knocked out a huge built in bar, and we replaced the carpet with laminate flooring. 

The bar, like all horizontal surfaces in our house, seemed to have a gravitational pull of its own, collecting clutter from every passerby.  I have hated it all eight years we have lived here, because it used up a good 40 square feet of the room.  I wish I could find the photos of it.  It was not hideous, just huge, two levels of tile countertop, one bar height, one counter height.  The base was drywall; it was built in when the basement was finished by the prior homeowners. 

Now that it is gone, we have a dedicated craft space.  I have a table of my own, and my daughter has her drafting table.  I never had the luxury of being able to leave works in progress laying out before now.  That often meant I just didn't start something, because I didn't want to get out the sewing machine, gather the supplies from their homes in various rooms, set everything up, be interrupted, not get back to it, and have to put everything away undone so we could use the table for something like breakfast or dinner or schoolwork.

Not anymore!  Now all the craft supplies are in one space.  Yep, the sewing supplies, the glues, the papers and paints, the fabrics, the bits and bobs I collect thinking I might make something out of them.  They all reside in the basement now.  (Not all the yarn has made the move yet.)

I took the sewing machine out on Wednesday to line the Hogwarts bags, and did not put it away when I was done.  Did not get back to it yesterday, but since it was still out, today I finally made a sweater pillow.  I know I would not have made the pillow if the sewing machine had not still been sitting out.

I love having this space so much that I am going to show you what it looked like today, as I made the pillow.  It's a mess.  Usually, I wouldn't want to show my house looking messy, but I think you will appreciate seeing my space in action.  I meant to take photos of it last week when I had my Craftastic friends over.  There were six of us, all working on our own projects while chatting and snacking - loved it!  However, I was holding a baby as much as I could, so I forgot to take pictures.

(To help you visualize, the bar was located where my sewing table is.  It covered most of that window.  Huge.)

Hogwarts House Bags, Lined and Ready

Ready for giving.   I lined them on Wednesday. 

I love how the Ravenclaw bag turned out.

I am less happy with Gryffindor. 

Gryffindor was knit as instructed; Ravenclaw I changed to a basketweave texture.  That change made the bag less stretchy, sturdier, and slightly shorter.  I was able to pop the lining into it no problem.

The Gryffindor was a different story.  Because the knit fabric wanted to pull in or bunch up along its vertical lines, I added interfacing to the lining, to stiffen it.  That resulted in a stiff and crumply bag.  So I tacked the bottom edge of the lining to the bottom seam of the bag.  That helped a lot, but it still is not as nice as the Ravenclaw.

This would not bother me so much if they weren't going to the same home, where they will invite comparisons. 

Kid-Made Gnomes

We had a copy of this book about gnomes in the 70's.  I am sure it was given away long ago, but gnomes, like so much of the 70's are back.  (Owls, even more so.  I keep seeing owls everywhere.)

When I started planning my basement remodel, I began looking at a lot of decorating blogs, and the ones whose style I most liked were the Scandinavian bloggers.  I don't read any of the Norse languages, so it's all looking at pretty pictures for me.

Anyway, gnomes either never stopped being popular in Norway, or they are enjoying a resurgence there like they are here.  On one of the blogs I saw a cute kids' craft to make gnomes, so when our little friends were visiting last week, we made gnomes.  Except they called them elves.

They were just the right balance of not too hard and not too quick to make, so I thought I'd share them here in case any of you are looking for something to fill one of the upcoming school break days.

The set to the right were made by a five year old.  I love the bangs she gave herself!  She made one to represent each of her sisters and herself. 

They are made from scraps of paper, wrapped around a toilet paper tube.  We used scrapbook paper that was left from a different project.  Wrapping paper would glue more easily, I think.  The hat is a square of fabric, tied at the top.  Those were scraps from a friend, already cut.  So this was a no cost project for us!

Below is big sister, with her gnomes.

(The walls look purple with the flash, and I didn't bother trying to fix it.  I was lucky I remembered to take photos at all.  We also sewed some toys, and I totally forgot to take any pictures of those.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Laundry Room: Done, and Fabulous.

I love my "new" laundry room/mud room/pantry.  Seriously, every time I leave or come home, I am instantly happy with how this room turned out.  It's the pass-through from the garage to the rest of the house, so it gets a lot of traffic.

We bought this wardrobe at IKEA to replace both the closet and pantry shelves my husband knocked down.  It fits perfectly in the space, and holds so much!  It was our biggest expense, but worth it.

Why would I want a closet removed?  Because it was so close to the washer/dryer that I had to stand to the side to open their doors, and was constantly backing into it while moving laundry from one machine to the other.  That's why.

I did not take before photos, because I knew I had taken photos of every room in my house a few years ago.  When I went to look for them yesterday, the entire program was missing from that computer.  So you'll have to settle for my descriptions of the before.  Sorry.

Open shelving, in an L shape hung on part of the wall where the wardrobe now stands, and on part of the wall where you see Trixie's little bed.  Open shelving looks chic in magazines where pretty glass jars of pasta and coffee sit neatly.  Shelves of cereal boxes, chips, and tuna cans looks sloppy.  Add school books and art supplies, and it is a disaster zone.

Worse were all the shoes that I would trip over to get to the cereal.  My family likes to keep their shoes near the door, and keeping them tidy was a source of daily conflict. 

The floor used to be sheet vinyl that was peeling up, scratched, and stained.  Now it is nice, clean ceramic tile.

Above the washer and dryer there used to be a shelf with mismatched old kitchen cabinets sitting on it.  And a lot of goo from laundry detergent.  I would like to put a new cabinet there, one that fits properly, but haven't found one in my price range yet. 

That small door is my daughter's laundry chute, in case you were wondering.  I say it is hers, because she is the only one who uses it.  The rest of us have hampers.

While I'm explaining things, the bottle on the floor is white vinegar.  I use it instead of fabric softener, and also use it to prop the washer door open when it is not being used.  Front loaders tend to get stinky if you don't.

Oh, Trixie's bed - we leave Trixie in the laundry room when we are all out of the house for any length of time. She is accident prone if unattended.

An unexpected benefit of removing that closet, which reached almost to the window sill you see here, is that the whole room is brighter.  A fresh coat of white paint helped, too. 

Other than a cabinet for over the laundry, the room is done.  I'd like to hang something on the wall about where Trixie's bed is, directly opposite the door into the family room/kitchen.  If I find something, or make something, I'll let you know.

I've thought about putting an extendable drying rack where the closet used to be, over the dog food container.  I'm as yet undecided about that, though.  It would be nice for hats and gloves when it snows, but I'd still hang my clothes to dry in my bathroom. 

I consider those last things decorating decisions, not remodeling ones.   So in my mind, the room is done enough to show it off.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Blocking Mizzle

Most of what I knit doesn't need blocking, but shawls do.  I washed it on the hand wash cycle, and spread it out to dry.  I just patted it into place on my sweater racks, no pins or wires.

I love the way it turned out!  

The pattern, Mizzle, was free.  You can download it from Ravelry.  It was a quick and easy knit.  Just the kind I like - something I can knit while watching tv with my family.  I thought it would be perfect to show off the colour variations in the yarn without turning out stripey or splotchy. 

I did change the pattern on the outer edge.  I wanted it more open, so I did this: 
row 1:  k2 (k3, yo, sl1, k2tog, psso, yo) k5
row 2:  k2, purl across, k2

The yarn, which I won from What's Up, Cupcake, is "Snowflake Sock"  from Little Red Bicycle.  100% superwash wool, hand dyed.  I have to say, when I was knitting this, I had doubts about whether it would be wearable.  The yarn was not "next to the skin soft."  However, washing changed its feel entirely.  It is now soft and light and cozy, just what you'd want in a shawlette.  Or mini-shawl.  Or neckwarmer.  Wrap.  Thing.  Whatever you call it, it's done!

Monday, November 14, 2011

365 At the Playground

Not exactly sliding.

365 Sea Lions

Last free day this year.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

365 Knitting my prize

This is the yarn I won in What's Up Cupcake's giveaway.

Knitting for Christmas After All

The Ravenclaw bag is done, at least the knitting.  I think Luna would like it.  Instead of being given for her birthday, I'll be giving it at Christmas.  The Gryffindor bag will go to my littlest niece, who likes to be Ginny Weasley.

I still need to line both bags.

For Ravenclaw, I decided against the chevron I'd originally planned.  Instead, I purled the blue squares which keeps the knit fabric a bit flatter and sturdier.  I also knit the motif on the back.  The Gryffindor only has the emblem on one side, which I now regret, as I'm giving them to sisters. 

This is the back, with the dogs enjoying the sunshine.  (My floor is not quite as dirty as it looks.  Trixie had just been pulling tufts of fur off her mountain lion.)

Monday, November 7, 2011

A peek at what has been keeping me busy

New floor, new paint, new furniture. 
Both the laundry room and basement are now done.
I still have lots of "stuff" to put away, though.
More photos to come - my camera has been neglected while I work,
but I'll take some soon.