If I’m going to catch up on my projects, I’m going to have to go back to where I left off, before the holidays. So here we go! I shared previously about my project to lighten and brighten my family room. The centerpiece of this room refresh was a new fireplace surround built by my brother Cameron, of Howard Homescapes. I wanted to keep my limestone fireplace but I wanted it prettied up a bit, and for the mantle to be more than a simple slab stuck up on top. I started a Pinterest board to visualize what I wanted in a new mantle. My brother and I sat down and he did sketches of the new design.
He did the carpentry work over a few days and then I put on the paint. I’m so pleased with the result. The fireplace now looks like furniture that goes with the rest of our room, but I didn’t lose the traditional stone that came with the 1960ish addition on the back of my 1940 house.
Here are a couple “before” photos for comparison. The room was cozy and beloved before, but it’s so much brighter and cleaner-looking now. I’m really pleased with my fireplace!
Well, I think 3 months might be a new record for me away from this blog. Seems like my blog comes in “seasons” now, kind of like Downton Abbey. Then it’s just re-runs for a while. (This is a joke, just in case you think I have delusions of grandeur.) But I’ve been recording projects here for six years now, and in spite of this and other absences I haven’t actually stopped. In my time away the holidays happened, with their busy, crazy, happy rush and mess. My computer went all Blue Screen of Death and every second of my laptop time for weeks went to trying to get all that back in order. But mostly the daily chores of keeping three kids alive and reasonably educated has prevented me from taking the time to keep my little record of the other, more tangible, stuff I accomplish in the corner moments. Yet here I am again, rounding up some photos I’ve snapped here and there in the last weeks, writing down my projects notes so I can hold own to my own accomplishments and so my comments can join everyone else’s in the best thing that ever happened to the handicraft universe: the internet!
I’m going to reintroduce myself since I’ve been gone so long. This is my family on Christmas Eve. My babies are Daphne (2), Worth (5), Dorothy (9). We’re a homeschooling family in Louisville, Kentucky. I bought the elf hats at the Dollar Tree and put the kids’ names on them with my embroidery machine. They cheerfully wore the hats everywhere during the Christmas season, which is possibly the only thing they all did cheerfully and in tandem except open gifts. Daphne is at a “difficult” age, which means that she occasionally lays on the floor and screams for upwards of 45 minutes because her mean parents insist on things like Closing the Refrigerator. Worth, sandwiched between my two intense girls, has a sweet spirit and his generous smile and goofy sense of humor makes the time-consuming task of teaching kindergarten very worth it (pun sort of intended). Dorothy is my very tweeny tween. She loves dolls and likes boys (already?!), still plays with Calico Critters, wears ripped jeans on purpose, loves big earrings, but still wears her pioneer girl dress-up dress out in public. I’m Renata, keeper of this little online crafty scrapbook that reminds me I occasionally produce something besides dinner. Check back in here on upcoming Mondays and Thursdays, for at least the next few weeks!
I’ve been trying to be a little more organized about the knitting I do for myself. My selection process for projects has mainly been choosing a project for whatever yarn catches my eye and making it, or choosing a yarn for whatever project catches my eye and then making it. This isn’t a bad method, but it leads to a lot of unrelated finished objects that may or may not actually go with anything else I own. Lately I’ve been thinking it might actually be nice to have matching sets. So last winter I made this scarf and am now out of the yarn, which was purchased on clearance. But I don’t own a hat or hand-coverings to wear with it, so if I want to wear it outside with a coat on a cold day (it’s a scarf, right?) I have to grab gloves and/or a hat that don’t go with it in any way, shape, or form, or I have to have cold ears and hands. So I found yarn in my stash that coordinates with the scarf (it’s Knitpicks’ Wool of the Andes in Calypso Heather) and set out to make a hat and mitts that I can wear with the other scarf. I wanted a kind of lacy pattern, so I chose the Cranford Mitts pattern, but the yarn is worsted weight, so I adjusted the pattern to have fewer repeats. With the mitts done I made a simple hat with the same pattern across the brim. My underwear will never match, because I’m just not that person, but at least now some of my outerwear will.
I had just enough yarn left over from my Christmas cowl to make a hat for Daphne. I made the mystery beret pattern in the smallest size and didn’t do any of the extra rows. Really, I think extra rows would have looked better but I was low on yarn. As it was, I finished the hat with about a foot of yarn left! This hat will look sweet on her this winter, and I think I may make the pattern again for myself.
What’s up with me and neck-things? I’d been working on one cowl in the house and one in the car, and they happened to come off the hook at about the same time. (Why did she say “hook?” Because I knook knitting patterns instead of knitting them. Google it!) I bought a beautiful skein of Holiday Yarns’ Super Sheep DK in Persephone at a sweet little yarn shop in Haddonfield, NJ, when I was visiting a friend in that town this summer. It was my birthday on the day I was there and the pretty shades of red spoke to me, so of course I treated myself! The photo doesn’t do it justice; it is so hard to photograph reds. I used the Qiviut Neck Muff pattern, though the wool is superwash merino. This is the second time I’ve made this pattern, and I think I left the last repeat off both times because it was big enough already, but it was a nice pattern. I like the zig-zags and it’s a quick and engaging knit. It’s my plan to wear this basically throughout the month of December. All I have to do is throw on a black or gray knit shirt (or dress, if it’s that kind of occasion) and this cowl will make me look festive because of the pretty colors.
A new local yarn store opened in my city last year, but sadly I’ve only been able to visit once. Homeschooling three kids just isn’t very compatible with visiting lovely yarn stores to browse and shop. (No, really, it’s not.) But on my one visit there I picked up this pretty yarn, Manos Del Uruguay Maxima in Slate. It’s merino and so nice. The colors are hard to describe, but they go between olive green and a sort of slate blue. I’d been wanting to knit the popular Ravelry pattern for A Noble Cowl, so I made that my most recent project. Sometimes after a project is done I wish I’d made a different yarn choice, but this wasn’t one of them. Love this yarn with this pattern! I think I’m going to wear this all winter long.
I don’t like making scarves because they are so boring. Knit or crochet a nice pattern…then do it on seemingly infinite repeat. Yawn! But I really wanted a new gray one to wear this winter, so I decided to limit my Ravelry searches to patterns that use only bulky yarn. This one, the Anesha Crochet Lace Scarf, worked up very quickly and is very pretty too. I only had to do 10 repeats of the pattern and I alternated crocheting each one with other household tasks (laundry! crochet repeat! dishes! crochet repeat! vacuum! crochet repeat!…) to finish it in just one afternoon. I used Brava Bulky from KnitPicks so the yarn is soft and washable. I wouldn’t be able to block it to lay flat like the designer’s example scarf, but I think this one is meant to curl and drape anyway, and easy washabality seemed important to me. It’s like the Fancy Nancy of quick, easy scarves. Ooh la la!
I make or buy new aprons periodically. They aren’t investment pieces, right? Aprons are meant to be worn, to get dirty, to get worn out. I usually have one that I wear basically every day while I’m cooking dinner, and a couple others hanging just for fun. Maybe a lightweight one for when canvas is too hot, or a cute vintage one just because. I had a purchased sturdy canvas one that had been a favorite for a year or so, but it was starting to look like I’d cooked a few too many meals in it. For my new one I just cut around the last one to replicate the shape. I used this cute Premier Prints Arrow fabric from Fabric.com (I know, more arrows! I can’t help it.) And I put my name on it with the embroidery machine because why not? The big improvement I made over the last one I had was that I added a nice, deep pocket to the front. Now the the only reason I’ll have food smeared all over the front of my clothes is the fact that I live with a 2-year-old.