Friday, April 27, 2007

Furniture Refashion

Yesterday Joe and tackled another project that has been on the back burner for quite a while.

As you know, I'm an Estate sale junkie. One day I brought home a piece that defied all explanation in the eyes of all who saw it. I bought a gun cabinet. No, I do NOT have any guns that would facilitate the need for a cabinet, but I bought it nonetheless. I bought it for two reasons, I liked it, and it had potential. Ok, I guess you could throw in the fact that it cost less than $10 to the reasons I bought it also, but if it hadn't had the other two reason going for it I would have passed it up....honest.

This gun cabinet intrigued me. Nothing fancy, and very obviously handmade. I wish I knew the story behind it. I bought it from an estate, was this gun cabinet the first piece of furniture some newly retired aspiring woodworker made? Was it crafted by a grandson earning his Eagle Scout? I guess I'll never know the true history, but I do know that this piece of handcrafted Americana has found a new life in my home as a bookcase.

A Tank for the Pond and a Cardi Musings

There has been some knitting I haven't been deforesting my yard all week! :-)

Wednesday I finished this tank, an UFO from last summer:

It originally was that red keyhole tank with the ribbon bow in the back, (it's in Knit1 don't remember what issue.) Now I know why I didn't finish it last summer! YUCK Gauge is perfect and I made the smallest size and it's HUGE. I'm not going to bother with "fixing" it.....soooo glad I didn't take the time to weave in the ends it's going for a swim in the pond ASAP!

Last Friday I started a cardi. I sort of used another Garnstudio pattern, but then sort of didn't. I changed the stitch from moss to plain old stockinette, and I'm using a different sleeve. So basically the only thing that resembles the original pattern is the gauge and the bodice shaping.

I'm using recycled ramie from a thrift store sweater held together with some Egyptian cotton I picked up in England two years ago. I wanted something soft and casual to throw on this summer. This will be our second summer in this house and we still have not gotten central air....we don't need, we don't need it often. Last year there was a total of 4 days when AC would have been appreciated. It's not that the temps don't get high, they do, just like all other places here in the Midwest. But 90+ degrees with 90% humidity isn't uncomfortable here. I know that sounds crazy but it isn' at the hermitage we have a constant breeze. Actually most of the time you classify it as a wind! Thus I wear sweat shirts all summer, and I wanted a soft cottony cardi this summer.

I spent the entire day Saturday just knitting in the sun, it was heaven. I finished the back and almost got both fronts done.....yes I spent the ENTIRE day knitting in the sun. yes, I fried, my legs. :-)

I finished the first sleeve Monday night....ooops I had been using two strands of the cotton with one strand of the ramie for the back and fronts. I realized I was running short of the cotton so I figured I could squeeze out the two sleeves using two ramie strands and one cotton strand.....nope...I couldn't have been more wrong, not enough for the second sleeve. DAMN
Wednesday I forged ahead and made the second sleeve with only the ramie and then let the thing sit. Now I have before me a sweater in pieces that has matching fronts and back and "coordinating" sleeves that don't match each other. :-o I've been thinking about ripping the sleeve that has the cotton in it, but the thought of ripping out a sleeve made with this makes me shudder:

So I steam blocked it today, I'm seaming and searching for a zipper. Oh yeah the zipper, yet another thing that doesn't follow the Garnstudio pattern LOL

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Back Away From the Loppers

These past few days have been fabulous. Joe is on "long weekend". The translation from Joe's-workspeak to English means that it is his normally scheduled week off from work. Yeah I know, it sounds really good to have a whole week scheduled off work every 28 days, but you have to factor in the crazy 12 hour swing shift the rest of the time. It's a very small perk for the lifestyle and hours worked.

Anyway, with the promise of an entire week together and good weather predicted, we began the week on Friday afternoon with a pleasant little drive up the road a piece to the meat locker. If you are one of those unfortunate souls that has to buy your meat from a grocery store you have my sympathies. We came home with a bundle of triangles, ovals, cylinders, and circles all perfectly wrapped in crisp white butcher paper. Joe is an absolute master on the grill.

The rest of the afternoon we lazily sat outside. I'm sure Joe was just relaxing, I was scheming. Sunday was going to be the day. I'd let Joe relax the rest of Friday, and even Saturday, but Sunday he'd have to work. baaawhahaha

I had to dig around for a before shot of the mass destruction. I hadn't thought to take one (oops) So this pic is from last Fall, but you can easily see what I didn't want to see THIS year.

That huge blob on the left (3/4 of the pic) is a pussy willow. Yeah I never knew they got that big either. It's 20+ feet high and 30+ feet across. In years past it was a nice tidy, albeit huge, dome, as you can see it is/was now/then an unruly mess.

On the right side of the pic, are a few crab apple trees that have seen much better days along with copious amounts of unwanted growth.... weeds and volunteer trees, maple, mulberry and god only knows what else. In addition to all the crap, both the crab apples and the pussy willow had several limbs that were cracked and hanging from storms.

Sunday and Tuesday, (note the day of rest in between damn were my muscles screaming!) we did this:

The pile in the middle is just one of the piles of debris that we have to get rid of.....sigh Just picture if you can the pussy willow on the left and a couple of crab apple trees on the right nothing in between. The patch of green between the crab apples are day lilies.

I know the pussy willow looks kind of funny, and I realize I prob'ly didn't "prune" the trees correctly nor at the proper time of year, so catkins next year might be sparse, but I don't's a work in progress. There are still some limbs and stumps that have to go, I'm not done yet, but it's getting there. Already today I can see that they (the trees, not to mention the day lilies) appreciate having all that undergrowth and those huge limbs that were 15 feet long with only 15 leaves on the very ends removed. New buds and shoots are popping up all over on what we left. I'll post a pic when they are fully leaved, then decide what will have to go next year. :-)

Hermitage Trivia:
The walkway seen in the photos above originally lead to the outhouse. That's one hell of a walk from the house to the loo especially during the winters we have around here! YIKES!! It was a fancy schamcy two seater, with concrete thrones. :-)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

First Top of the Season

I haven't worked on the leather projects for over week now, just needed/wanted a break. I've been spring cleaning, such as it is with me and cleaning, and obviously as you've read from the previous post I was doing my semi-seasonal household shuffle. Plus believe it or not, I have actually left the Hermitage not once but twice in the past week...will wonders never cease!

The other thing that had been keeping me occupied is this top and the subsequent search for and brainstorming for new Summer tops.

I can't tell you how much I'm loving this top!! Such a breeze to work. It has just that right balance of total mindlessly, and instant gratification, coupled with a relatively big bang for the buck design. Oh yeah, I'm going to be churning out a few of these.

I won't hold you in suspense any's a Drops pattern from Garnstudio. Here's the link:

DROPS Top in Muskat and Shawl in Vivaldi ~ DROPS Design

I didn't change a single thing. Knitted straight from the pattern as is, it took 2 days. I used a 100% Egyptian cotton that I picked up in the bargain bin when I was in Savannah last Fall? Summer? not sure what visit it was. The depth, or saturation, of the black is what impressed me with this cotton. You know what I mean, it's hard to find a really nice black, they usually looks so washed out (like in the first picture) but honestly it is a true black, even better than the coloring of the second photo. Hope it stays that way! I don't remember who the mfg is, if you really want know just ask and I'll dig up the label. It isn't a mfg I'm familiar with, and deciphering the label is a's Italian.

Pattern Notes/Pitfalls:
I'm pretty short waisted so if any of you give this a go, you might want to double check the length of the torso. If Silly or Anniebell wants one of these, I won't be concerned with the torso length, cuz, well, they have torsos that can be revealed in public! LOL

There are about 7 or 8 other Drops patterns that I have my eye on. I have even pulled the yarns and have nice little project bags ready to begin. They should be hitting the needles soon, along with another one or two of this top :-) Right now, I'm working on a sleeveless shell in some banana silk. I THINK I just may have found the right pattern to use with this stuff. It's been a struggle.

I hate to admit it but of course you'll all understand, all of these soon to be FO's (giggle, snort) are from stash! Egads! As it stands right now, if all projects are worked I will have effectively cleared out my cotton stash aside from odd balls here and there. Anyone know of a nice striped top that is worked side to side cuz I hate horizontal stripes and I don't do multiple bobbins or balls. I'm dying to replenish stash, what with the Webs sale and the cottons that just came through the Elanns newsletter.

Oh and if anyone missed it, Cat Bordhi was on Knitty Gritty on Monday (HGTV) and she showed her Coriolis sock. I have GOT to make this sock!!!

CRAFTS : Knitting : Coriolis Sock : DIY Network

A bit a sad news....recently got an email about my pre-ordered new Bordhi book (New Pathways for Sock Knitters) that was suppose to ship in May....looks like maybe July or August before it gets shipped.....sigh. You can pre-order it here:

Off to do something even if it isn't right!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Dressing a pot

Yesterday was moving day. I have approximately 4 moving days a year. No, I don't change my address, but I do change my residence. I move furniture from room to room, upstairs, downstairs, re-hang pictures and swap out tables and lamps. I change things around to such an extent that a room may end up having a totally new purpose. Living room might become the dinning room, dinning room might become a family room. Consequently, I'm usually inspired to make something new. The something new usually entails sewing and generally I paint something too. Tomorrow will be new curtains for the sitting room and a new slip cover for a chair, but today I finally took care of an ugly plastic pot that's been bugging me since I got the plant.

Here is the before shot. Yeah I know, I have to water that poor tree, but it gets so dang heavy when it's been watered and I knew a moving day was looming, I could feel it.

And now it looks like this:

It was a quickie refashion of the this blouse.

I picked up this '80's blouse at the GW eons ago. The colors in the this photo are almost right, but they are deeper and richer. I tried to get the details of its construction but as you can see they don't show too well. The major points of interest are the hidden button closure up the front, it is collarless, and has an elastic waistband. Perfect, the elastic band snugs nicely around the bottom of the pot, I buttoned it up the back, pulled the sleeves inside, stuffed it with plastic bags and made some gigantic running stitches around the top to cinch it in. Stuffing it took the most time. LOL So aside from the huge running stitches, I didn't do anything else to this blouse so I will in the future still be able use it as a lining for a bag which is why I bought it in the first place. Ooops, yes I did, I removed the ginormous shoulder pads. :-)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Couple of things

The reason for this post is twofold. One, because I just made some changes in the way we compute here at the Hermitage and I want to make sure everything is playing nice together. And two, I have another Crazy Lady story to tell.

Yesterday I felt like crap, still don't feel perky today, but better, thanx for askin'. I don't want to step on anyones sensibilities here but I gotta be honest. Yesterday, I started my period. AGAIN. Yes the 16 day cycle from hell (please, oh please Goddess of Menopause wave your magic tampon on a stick and make it all go away) has once again knocked on my door. Aunt Martha has come a vistin' again. I'm assuming you all know the baggage she bring. Cramps, nausea, headache, weird food cravings and, um, altered emotional states. Yeah, I'm bitchy. As if the rest of the symptoms aren't enough to make a woman grumpy, consider the waxing and waning hormones, or in my case, the surging and retreating armies on the battlefield of premenopausal mommy bits. It's enough to make a sane woman a raving where does that leave me? Uh huh, nuff said.

Now, the Crazy Lady part of the story.......Oh sorry, you thought the above was the crazy part? Nope, there's more..... Joe's working nights this week, so, lucky man that he is, he is either sleeping or at work and he doesn't have to suffer through much time of having me as his companion. Now the animals, IdaMae and Ben, they are, well, animals thus (wo)man's companions. They don't know any better. In fact, when I'm feeling lousy they never leave my side. (such good babies) I spent most of yesterday doing relatively nothing but pacing the floor, tripping over animals, eating an incredible amount and variety, of junk and arguing with myself if my gut, back, or head hurt worse. I had considered going to bed but Joe was in there and, well, you know, he was breathing. That pissed me off. I couldn't go to bed under such circumstances!!!

By the time Joe left for work I was exhausted. I grabbed the Easter basket my SIL had given us, a bag of cheetos, a hunk of smelly cheese, some grapes, yogurt, crackers, a can of Mt. Dew, a glass of wine, and crawled into bed. There was nothing on tv. It pissed me off. I watched/dozed through, that stupid, stupid, My Favorite Martian movie with Jeff Daniels, Christopher Lloyd, Daryl Hannah pissed me off. I ran out of food, it pissed me off. Ida had been so obligingly laying on my lap (all 70+ pounds of her) keeping me warm and acting as a foil against the contractions in my gut...then she pissed me off. Yep, I was such a happy camper!!!

Then, as is the way, when things are waxing and waning, ebbing and flowing, attacking and retreating, I was all chipper. Of course some of that sugar and alcohol could have had something to do with my improved state of being...dunno. But I was feeling pretty good. All symptoms abated except one, the headache. Still there, low key, but lurking. Many, many years of experience have taught me to be very cautious at this point. That hollow place in my head that's located right beneath the hair that hurts is likely to explode into a full blown migraine at any minute with or without provocation. I'm VERY careful at this stage of the dance with Mr. Migraine. If I play the wallflower long enough he just might not want to dance. Thus I take on the Miss Manners persona. (I know it's a stretch but hear me out) As Miss Manners I don't get riled up. I don't speak in tones nor in decibels high enough to do anything other than calm a crying baby. I sit and stand erect, (no slouching) and merely glide across the floor, when movement is absolutely necessary, as if a book was balanced on my head. Aside from turning into Miss Manners the best thing to do at this point to make Mr. Migraine give up and go home, is to go to sleep. Not a problem, except that I had an Easter basket, various wrappers, cans, plates, glasses and flatware in my bed.....way too much stuff to just shove over to Joe's side which is what I do most of the time. So I got up and began take all that junk to kitchen. I had to make 3 trips, doing the Debutante Waltz, gliding across the floor, spine erect, chin high, no swaying of hips, (book balancing on top of hair that hurts).

On my last return from the kitchen to the bedroom I noticed something on the floor. Mind you, I glimpsed it. Debutantes don't turn their heads, and most assuredly they don't look down! This is what I saw:

Aaagggrrrhhhh!!! IdaMae what have you done?!? I was speechless. Ok , that's a lie, I had plenty to say through my clenched debutante teeth, but the words were all in hushed soothing tones. Really, honest. I scolded her in a scathing Miss Manners way, and bemoaned the fact that there had to more someplace, cuz, come on, IdaMae is 70+ pounds. I begged her to tell me where it was. (Gotta say right here and now, that this was the very first time Ida had ever done anything like that. Not even as a puppy) Ida wasn't talking. She was sulking and she was trying to make friends with me, but she wasn't talking. I glided (remember I'm trying to be a wallflower) into the kitchen to get cleaning supplies and Ida followed me, tail between her legs. I knelt before the kitchen sink, chin still high, spine erect, and groped around under the sink trying to find, by touch the proper cleaning supplies. Ida was standing there half hidden behind the peninsula that holds the cook top. Hmmmmm that hang dog look on her face seemed to indicate more distress in that direction, so I glided on my knees over there. (it's difficult to glide on ones knees.) The knees weren't liking that too well so I sat, erect, no slouching chin held high and scooted the rest of the way.

Now to the chore at hand. Just imagine how a person might go about "looking" matter, on the floor when said person can't lower their head to look. Sure you could stand back a ways and look from a distance, but in a closed in tight area? Nope you can't get far enough back to see everything. So logically one must takes a couple of paper towels, wraps them around her hands and slowly scan the area searching for the slightest resistance. (ya know, cuz of...ewwww...!) After canvasing the area several times and not "bumping" into anything (with a LOT of help from Ben who thought this was fabulous game while Ida kept nuzzling my neck) I was beginning to think that there wasn't any foreign matter over there. I glanced down a few times and was met with Mr. Migraine introducing himself. Couldn't do that anymore. I thought about getting the broom and sweeping the area, but nay, that might make a bigger a mess. (again I say ewwww) So I decided to assume there wasn't anything back there and if there was, it wasn't in the normal traffic pattern so Joe wouldn't step in it when he came home in the morning. Now on to the rest of the house....sigh. I scoot-glided all around the kitchen, spine erect, chin held high, paper towel wrapped hands scanning the floor for foreign matter. Nope, none there, at least none that I could feel or see from a distance. On to the dinning room where the foreign matter was first glimpsed, and then living room. Oh no the living room! There aren't any lights in there!!! I'm gonna need the flash light!!! So I got up, glided back to the pantry and grabbed the flashlight.

I slowly did the Debutante Waltz through the short hall between the kitchen and dinning room marveling at just how close to the foreign matter I must have stepped on my first two trips to the kitchen from the bedroom with the refuse of my binge. I gingerly lowered myself to one knee, chin still high (book still balanced) and reached for the present Ida had left. Groping around without looking I eventually caught hold of it. WTF!!!! Yes, it was foreign matter, yes, it was a present from IdaMae......No, it was NOT what I thought it was a rock..........sigh

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Leather Coat Project Top and Bag part 7

Finally got this top done after it hung on Vivian for days and days. Remember my fear of the eyelets? I just couldn't bring myself to do them. Even contemplated taking the top to a shoe repair guy and have him do the eyelets. In the end I opted not to do that and made the loops that are now on the back.

I like the top...not a fav top, and well, it just isn't me (at least not "appropriately"'s so hard when you feel 28 and in reality are dang near 48!) so Silly if you're reading and like this top, give me a call it's yours! (Silly is my baby that is soon to be 20...egads)

After the book, wallet, top, and some pieces set aside for another top in progress this is what I have left to work with.

So I made this bag.

I'm really pleased with this bag. I lined it with some fabric I got at the Mouse for 25 cents (that's 2 yards for 25 cents! Love the Mouse) There is an interior pocket and I like the versatility of the strap. The strap btw is rattail, a few row of crochet (slip stitch) then roll back on to itself. I personally hate drawstring bags generally, but I modified this. You can sort of see in the first pic how the back side along the opening is straight and not gathered. I put a piece of wood dowel in there. Now I can easily get into the bag for a quick grab and don't have to hassle with the whole drawstring thing. When and if I do need to open the bag wide like in the 2nd pic, then that dowel in there is a nice place to hold on to when manipulating the drawstring. (no digging you fingers into the tiny hole) :-) I also think it gives the bag a bit more shape than just a drawstring bag.

I've got another bag done too but the batteries on my camera died before I could get a picture.....sigh

Monday, April 02, 2007

Score at the Mouse

Joe and I went thriftin' the other day. Dang if I didn't score BIG time! It's not surprising though, I've got the BEST Thrift Store ever. It's named, The Church Mouse, just the "Mouse" to us. I can only count on one hand the number of times I've gone in there and not found something that I needed/wanted/desired but I've always had a great time!

The Mouse is a cute little shop, or at least it tries to be. It's ran by a local church and staffed by volunteers. Not all, but most of them are well beyond 65, and they work real hard at organizing their wares in boutique fashion. Some of the more spry of ladies put in whole 6 hour shifts, others, well, 2 hours is about all they can manage. They are such a friendly bunch and of course you just HAVE to chat a bit. Consequently a trip to the Mouse is an event, because it takes much longer to shop there. Generally speaking I'm a "power thrifter". I know the terrain of the various stores and head directly to the sections of the things I'm interested in. A quick walk through, glancing here and there and I'm outta there, 6 minutes, tops. I don't shop in those places I "thrift", at the Mouse I shop.

The Mouse has a completely different environment. You walk in, you greet a few of the ladies, you look through a section, you greet a few more ladies, if you picked something up, you might have a chat about it, you move on to another section, you greet someone else, you chat about what's in your hand again, and it goes on and on, section, by section, item by item. At the check out a gaggle of women assembles and they ooh and ahh over your purchases. "What are you going to do with this yarn...I use to knit/crochet before my hands got so bad" "Oh that fabric is lovely, what's it going to be...I use to sew before my eyes got so bad" "Oh honey that sweater will never fit you". I love my Ladies.

After all has been discussed and stories of what's was made in the past have been shared, then it's time add up the sale. Some days it goes smoothly and others well, we have fun. Some of the items in the shop are priced individually, some are just listed on a price sheet (books, magazines, purses and such). It can be difficult to read for some of the ladies. Sometimes the little ladies behind the checkout area will have to trot out to the other side of the counter to get far enough away so they can read it. (Just to be clear, the aforementioned price sheet is a poster board hanging on the wall with 3 inch lettering.) The lucky ones just stand there bobbing their heads valiantly trying to locate the appropriate level of their multi-focal eyeglasses. The usual procedure for check out is to have the bagger call out the prices (from the price sheet on the wall), to the lady who is manning the cash register, who confirms the price (from the price sheet on the wall.) Um, yeah, see where I'm going here? Remember what I just said regarding the readability of this price sheet? Multiple the appropriate reaction to said price sheet by two. On any given day, depending who is punching the register and who is bagging other types of mayhem can occur. More times than not a "discussion" regarding the size of the magazine will develop, the difference, price-wise, being a nickle. (how dreadful it would be if the customer got overcharged an entire nickel!!!) Often times the two will get mixed up and have to begin the tally again. (with all that head bobbing and climbing over each other who could blame them?) And on occasion, to be sure, an accusation of mumbling will be issued and be countered with a remark about someones lack of hearing and a lively "discussion" will ensue. You know the kind of "discussion" I'm talking about. The same kind you had as a kid with your sister or your best Dad called it squabbling.......Joe calls it knicker knacking. I love my Ladies!

So now you know why I said going to the Mouse was an event. I love the Mouse and the Ladies who work there. I plan my Mouse trips.....gotta give them at least an hour. :-)

Last week shopping at the Mouse scored this:

I can't read German, but I thought the picture looked interesting. Inside was this:

It's a pattern drafting program!!! Over 280 patterns! From the simple straight forward classics"specialty clothing" (?) Yeah, I don't think I'll be making a riding outfit anytime soon, but that just kinda sums up the scope of patterns in this kit/program/book.

There are woman's clothes, obviously, and children's, teen's, men and boys, swimwear and lingerie, to bridal fashions, and winter coats. I'm soooo pleased with this. Oh and btw, it is in English. The translation is a bit shaky regarding grammar, but then why the hell would that bother me right? :-) Every now and then there are words that aren't translated, mostly the names of the patterns (I think). The directions are just fine. If I run into trouble I'll be asking Monika. I'll drop her a line and say, 'Hey Monika, what's a "snitt"?'

As a matter of fact no time like the present....Hey Monika, what's a snitt?


Because I am the geek that I am.......

Here are a couple of videos of my new friend. The first is just a clip of him eating. The second is a clip of him doing what woodpeckers do......banging their heads. Warning, if you are the type that is susceptible to the power of suggestion, take a couple of aspirin before you watch the second clip.

The quality of the videos for my aptitude for things like this.....sorry. It's still pretty drab and dull outside. Go figure, this is Illinois and it's springtime. I did NOT speed up the second video it's shot in real time .....puh-leeze, you know I don't know how to that!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Project Leather Coat Still Draping part 6

Yep, I'm still draping and still changing my mind. At least that's what I've been doing most of today. I think at last count I was 1, 726 times I've changed my mine....add another 1200.....sigh.

Here's a small taste of what I was thinking today.


This is what I have decided on.

There's no going back. No more changing my mind, this baby is nearly done!!! All that's left is to set the straps and pound the eyelets for the lacing in the back. And those two things are the reason it's not done now.....sigh.

I want to set the straps on me, not on Vivian. She's been a awfully good sport, and not bitching at all when I would drape a piece around her for the bazillionth time. But as close as she is to my size she's just a wee bit big through the rib cage. I need another pair of hands so I guess I have to wait until Joe gets home in the morning.

Pounding the eyelets is a whole other story. I have to get up enough nerve to do that. For what ever reason eyelets and I just don't get along. Sometimes I can pound them all day and not have a lick of trouble, other days, well I'd rather run my tongue through the sewing machine. I even considered putting a zipper in the back! That's how much I'm dreading these eyelets. But eyelets it is and eyelets it will have to be, this leather is just too fluid and stretchy for anything as permanent as a zipper. Although, I could always put the zipper in now and when the day comes the top is just too stretched out then I can do the eyelets!! Oy! Everything is done including the top stitching and I'm still thinking of ways to change it!!! Shoot me now.