Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Knitted Rug Complete!

Well, after a mad & crazy weekend which was full of redecorating, art exhibits, overseeing homework and visits to emergency (all fine!), I was happy to see Monday roll around at last. 
I've finally been able to spend the last two nights working at my knitted rug, and have finished weaving in all the ends.  I am so pleased with how this turned out!!

It's a very decent size, measuring 25" x 30".  As I mentioned before, I knit this using very chunky pure wool from my mother's stash.  The wool is quite rough and I couldn't think what else to make with it ... not soft enough for anything you'd want to wear.  It's absolutely perfect for a rug because of the thickness.  I'm sure it will wear well too.

I knit it with size 12mm needles using a double strand of wool throughout.  One of the balls of wool was white with brown twisted into it.  I liked the effect this gave when I combined it with a solid colour. 

It really makes the rug look like an old-fashioned braided rug. 
And it's so springy and soft under your feet.  I'd like to put it in the kitchen for some comfort on the floor ... I just can't bear to see it getting full of crumbs and dog hair.  So I'll put it in the bathroom beside the tub, and it'll give the bathroom a nice bit of warmth :)
I've also been working on some comfort dolls (I provided links about these dolls in this post), and have got this much done so far ...
Three dolls, one complete, and two still needing their faces embroidered.  I do not like embroidering on knitted fabric.  The face I did on the little guy on the right was done with wool, but I think I'll try embroidery floss next to see if I can make a better job of it.  I'm enjoying knitting them up a bit differently each time to see what various features can be highlighted. 
I didn't like how the feet turned out on the first two dolls I made, so with the third one (striped hat) I started off with fewer stitches at the toe, and then increased a few stitches each round.  I like how that turned out.  You can see the difference in the feet below.
I knit these dolls in the round to avoid having to stitch them up later.  There's already enough fussy work weaving in the ends each time you change colours of yarn.
I have finished painting the walls in my daughter's room, but there's some leaks of aqua on the white trim which need to be touched up next ... I'll post a "reveal" when that gets done.
Have a Safe & Happy Halloween with your little guys tomorrow night!  This morning after I dropped my son off at school, I watched as someone who was too anxious to get to work and wasn't paying attention, hit a young teen crossing the street at a busy intersection.  I don't know what  the driver of the van was thinking, but he was clearly at fault.  Luckily, the boy was not hurt as the van barely touched him ... it was really the kid who saved himself by leaping sideways away from the van ... but still, it's one of those moments you hope you never have.  So stay alert if you're driving tomorrow night with all those kids out trick or treating.     
 Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, October 25, 2013

A Week's Work

This week seems to have gone by in a flash!!  My daughter has been home for Reading Week (mid-term) from university.  She eventually got bored with doing homework, and suggested we paint her room?!  I painted her room about six years ago in a brilliant lime green, which you can just get a glimpse of in this photo.  It's called "margarita green" ... a bit jarring.
So when she said "Let's paint my room!!"  I know she was expecting me to be thrilled with the idea, drop everything and snap to attention!  But my inner sloth sort of cringed.  I really would rather do other things that are more urgent.  I have a stair railing to sand and paint, which is under a pressing deadline.  I also have a couple of other refinishing projects that I had hoped to finish up before the cold weather arrived ... oops! too late there!  But because I'm a mom, and because I love her, but mostly because I've never really liked the margarita green, we headed out one night this week to pick up the paint supplies. 

We had to prime the walls first to cover the ghastly green.  And it's been great that my daughter wants to do much of the work herself.  I've just had to give a few instructions, and I helped paint the edges where wall and ceiling meet, but she has done all the taping and the rest of the painting!  I've helped with the brush & roller cleaning too :P  So now we've got one coat of a very pretty, very calming soft aqua-greenish-blue.  What a difference!  When someone else is doing 80 percent of the work, this painting gig is not so bad! 
I don't have any photos as yet, and really there's only a bed left in her room now since all her other furniture went to her rental house in university town.  But I'll share that with you next week, when the girl is back to university, and I can attend to the last of the touch-ups ;)
This week I also got some more knitted squares sent off in the mail to Dianne Jones of Lily.  I really like knitting up the squares, but haven't made up very many.  I want to concentrate a bit more on this again.

I really enjoy knitting up these squares, as it gives me a chance to try out some different stitch patterns along the way.
I was also able to add a couple of hats to the parcel this time too.  One adult and one child-sized hat. 
And off they go to  LILY!
 Oh yes ... the knitted rug is still
chugging away to the finish line.  I just have to weave in these ends ...
Thanks for stopping by!
PS  I wasted a whole evening playing with picmonkey with some of my photos.  An evening I will never get back  :[

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

An Aside in Helping Out

I've posted before about LILY (Love in the Language of Yarn) and their mission in providing knitted/crocheted blankets to Syrian Refugees.  Their link button is on my side bar.  The coordinater Dianne Jones puts out a request for anyone with a few moments to knit or crochet three simple 9-inch squares and mail them off to her in Turkey ... the "Three Square Appeal".  I knitted some squares up in the summer, and it cost me $10 Cdn to mail ten squares to her.  I've knitted up some more squares now and they're ready to ship out.  This time I'm also including some small hats.
I've been wanting to knit up a small doll with dangly sort of arms.  This morning I checked out Ravelry for some doll patterns and came across "African Comfort Dolls".  Intrigued by the simple look of these dolls, and the name, I clicked on the link, which brought me to this page.  An organization, ICrossCanada collects these adorable dolls and uses them for packaging to send HIV drugs and medical equipment destined for Africa (rather than the usual bubble wrap or packing peanuts).  How ingenious!!  When the packages arrive in Africa, the dolls are handed out to local children ... many of them in the HIV clinics.  I thought this was a clever and creative way to achieve safe packaging and provide a bit of comfort for a small orphan child on the other end.  With a bit of hopping around, I believe you will find an address for another organization Drops of Grace in the United States that also collect these dolls for the same purpose. 
So, not that I've dropped everything to work on this ... I do have a small rug nearing completion ... I just felt compelled to share these two charitable efforts with you today. 
Click on this link if you want to learn more about LILY.  There is information there about the size of squares and the mailing address.
Click on this link if you want to learn more about knitting African Comfort Dolls  Includes a pattern for knitting or crochet and mailing information to send to ICrossCanada (in BC).
I haven't made the dolls, so can't vouch for the pattern at this point.  Once I do try it out, I'll post about it again.  I noticed a couple of comments from people on the site that questioned the size of needles, etc., so an experiment may be in order first.
That's all for today folks!
Thanks for stopping by ... Wendy :)
PS:  I hope I have all this information correct, my apologies if I've there's anything missing, and please let me know if you have problems with any of these links!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Knitted Mat WIP

Taking a quick break from knitting my mat to show what I've decided on ... just a little peek ...

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm using 12 mm needles with chunky wool.  I searched around a bit on the web and saw a couple of ideas.  One lady knitted her mat with cotton clothesline in a stockinette stitch.  It looked very chic, but I after knitting even with these large needles & chunky wool, I can't imagine knitting up thick, stiff clothesline! 
Another example of a knitted mat used the same sized needles as I have, and the creator doubled up the wool.  Perfect!  So I followed her suggestion of putting 45 stitches on the needle "or more if you can manage it".  I managed to squeeze on 50 stitches.  As you can see, there's not a lot of wiggle room left on the needle!  At least this gnarly wool isn't prone to slipperiness, and I haven't lost a stitch off the end of the needles.  I decided to knit mine in plain old garter stitch so that it's the same on both sides and should lie nice and flat.
I tried just now to locate the two mats I viewed, but cannot find them.  However, there's a ton of inspiration on Google images under "knitted mats" should you want to see more. 
I don't have much more to do now ... mostly because my yarn stash is nearing the end.  I hope I have enough to make this just a bit more rectangular.  Of course the fun in making something impromptu and using what you have on hand, is the surprise ending, right?! 
I'll be back shortly to show you that surprise.
Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Knitted Mat

My mom used to make braided rugs. 

Just small rugs to use in the kitchen.  She braided them by hand for many years by cutting up whatever scraps of woolen clothing she could from cast-offs.  She saved until she had enough for a rug, then a new rug would appear.  She never quite got the hang of making them to lie flat, but they were thick and warm on the bare floor.  All those small oval mats are gone with time now.
When she got a large loom and began weaving, she discovered that weaving mats worked out much better and were easier to make.  Woven mats started appearing all through the house then.
The two rugs on the right were made using yarn, the others were made using clothing scraps.
And once she started weaving, there were more than just clothing scraps ... now she had weaving scraps, and the rugs took on a more refined look.

Our house in the country was always very cold as my father liked to conserve energy.  Even on the coldest winter days, the thermostat never rose above 62'F ... I will forever remember how cold I always was in the winter and how I would have to layer two sweaters on and still feel the chill.  Dad never wavered.  So Mom made bright little rugs, and at least there was a spot of warmth under our feet in front of the kitchen sink!
She gave us all some woven rugs while she was still alive.  When she passed away, I scooped up the remaining rugs that were left kicking around their abandoned house and now use them in our camping trailer ... they make such a nice little bit of coziness when we're out in the woods. 
I don't have an old paper bag full of clothing scraps like Mom had, nor the inclination to make any braided rugs, and Mom's loom was sold after she passed away.  But I do have this small basket of very rough, chunky pure wool from Mom's stash.  In looking at the rugs, I can see some of this yarn was used in the making of her woven rugs.

 The colours are so rich ... jewel tones ... and they remind me of my mom and her love of rich colours.  I also have a set of very large, size 12 mm, knitting needles from Mom which I had actually put in the goodwill bag just last week (thankfully, I hadn't dropped the bag off yet).  I didn't think I would ever want to knit with such awkward-looking needles.  I dragged them out of the goodwill bag this morning ...

I started thinking about that thick yarn and those rugs Mom used to make, and I thought I could try making this stash of wool into a bright knitted rug for the bathroom.
I did a test swatch to see how it would look using these mammoth needles, and the result was not half bad!   I just have to get used to the size of these needles!

I think I'll try to mimic the braided rug effect and have long strips of colour and then knit them all together.  It would work really well if I had a circular needle in this size, but I don't, so I'll just work with what I have.  I hope this works out to what I can picture in my head.  I'm just worried the joining of the strips together might make too bulky of a seam on the underside of the rug ... we'll see.  If anyone has any suggestions, they're most welcome.
Temperatures are dropping outside today ... I think our late summer-like weather is moving on ... so it's a good initiative to work on some cozy knitting.
Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Thanksgiving & Completed Refinishing Projects

It's been a while since I've been around blogs and in fact have been neglecting my own!  I guess I've not had much to talk about that I thought would be of interest to anyone, and with the garden dwindling, and no trips out anywhere, things have been a bit ... hmmm ... slow here.
This past weekend was our Canadian Thanksgiving.   Thanksgiving is not what it used to be in my family, and although there was no huge gathering of 25 people like there used to be (and I don't want to get all melancholy here), we did have a big dinner for my own family on Sunday.  My daughter came home from university for the weekend, so we were all together again.  My son has enjoyed helping me with these big meals the last couple of years, and this year he was again willing.  It's just a lot more fun when someone is in the kitchen helping out, and we had some laughs as we threw things together.  We cooked a nice big 15-pound turkey, homemade sausage stuffing, homemade cranberry sauce, candied yams, scalloped potatoes and this year a pot of baked brown beans.   I also made a pumpkin pie for dessert to round it all off.  It was epic I tell you! 
Morning glories taking over the back corner ... Heavenly Blue
My Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas dinner don't vary much.  I kind of like it that way because it's easy to prepare all the dishes in a very streamlined way, since I prepare everything the day of (which is probably not the easiest way to get it done).   A while ago, I picked up a very nice bean pot at the thrift store, and I decided that this year I would add some old-fashioned baked brown beans to the Thanksgiving dinner.  I used a recipe that my mom used for years.  I don't believe she followed the recipe after a while ... really, it's so simple, it's barely even a recipe!  But I thought I would share it with you now, because it worked out really well. 

Here's my mom's original recipe card:

Bean Pot Beans
2 cups navy beans
1/4 lb bacon*
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 cup dark molasses
1/2 c chili sauce
1 tbsp. vinegar
1 medium onion, sliced
2 cups hot bean liquor
Cover beans with water* and soak overnight.  Add bacon** to the beans, cover and simmer (do not boil) until just tender (about 1 hour).  Drain, reserve liquor.  Remove bacon and cut into 1/2-inch cubes.  Pour beans into 2 quart bean pot or casserole.  Bury bacon cubes in beans.  Add remaining ingredients.  Cover and bake in slow oven (300'F) 6 hours.  If necessary, add bean liquor or hot water.  Serves 8
*NOTE: A notation on the back suggests 3 cups water/1 cup beans. 
**NOTE:  I used a small package of "pork bellies" and I felt it was safer to cut the bacon up into cubes & fry it up a bit first before adding to the beans.  I added it to the beans once they were well into a hot simmer.
So there you have it ... a very traditional Canadian winter's meal :)
Zinnias still out in bloom ... what a great flower this has been!
But that's not all I have to share with you today.  I also wanted to show my completed refinishing projects that I started a while ago.  I have the rocking basket all finished and with a lining that I already had made for it:
Once the second coat got on it, I was much happier with the results.  The first coat always seems to look dreadful doesn't it?
Next on the list was the wooden breadbox that I sanded down and painted:
It just seems sort of dull painted all white, but I can't decide what else to do with it.  Maybe just paint that front bar a different colour?  Not sure.  I sanded the entire interior as well, but didn't paint the interior.  I'm not using it as a bread box, just for storage.
I also finished up the little wooden stool that my great-grandfather made:
This will go back into my bathroom, but I realized afterwards that my bathroom's trim is all off-white (including the cupboard doors), so I think I have to now paint the trim & cupboards.  They're due for a bit of touching up anyway, so I don't mind doing that.  I think the stool needs a bit of a cushion on the top, and I like the look of something quilted ... what do you think?  I need a quick & easy sewing project ... I've been far too long away from my sewing machine.
The smoking table is still in the works as I haven't had time to sand down the fussy little corners yet.  My husband suggested I take the door off to sand it down quicker, but I'm afraid that if I take out all those screws, it won't go back together as snug as it is now.  These are the little indecisions that stall me for ages.  But I've got these three above projects completed, so I'm confident I'll get this last table finished up soon (at least before Christmas!!).
And while I was waiting for paint to dry, I decided to sand down yet another little piece ...
A small magazine holder.

I think I might do this one in colour.  I'm not 100% sure I like the white painted things now that they're complete, but I'm not going to do them over again (at the moment anyway).  I'm more of a colour person, as you can probably tell by my putting bursts of colour on the pieces I painted white!  So something more to ponder.  I also have two major (for me) redecorating things I have lined up and waiting.  I'll reveal more on that when I get my final ideas sorted.
Anyway, I hope everyone is enjoying this beautiful fall weather in my area.  We've had about three weeks of sunny bright days with temperatures in the high teens.  Not your typical fall days!  I've still got all my windows opened during the day and the soft breeze is blowing through the house ... so very nice!  I've spent many days out on the patio soaking in the sunshine as the winter tends to drag on a bit longer here once it starts. 
Thanks for stopping by, it's always so nice to hear from you!

The grasses around the pond are looking so pretty!
Some plants have been brought in now for winter.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

A Rare Find for an Old Fool

Yesterday it was so nice out that I took a walk around the neighbourhood in the morning.  And since it's nice to have a destination rather than wander aimlessly, I set my feet in the direction of the thrift store.  I wandered aimlessly around the store instead ;)  And I won't be back in that store for a long, long time.  I promised this to myself because yesterday my heart skipped a bit when I spied this on a shelf ...

Do you know how many times I've come across these wonderful old boxes?  Old empty boxes?
Well yesterday, I slowed my breathing, tried not to get my hopes up yet again, and raised the lid.  The angels sang, the clouds parted, and I stood and smiled at this beautiful sight ...
The box was full ... full of this wonderful antique sewing machine.  And it's in colour!!
It's like the fanciful scroll work you see on carousels!
And fancy engraved metals bits ...
And there's a date ... don't you love antiques with dates?
August 1, 1911 ... One Hundred and Two Years Young :)
(Okay, so maybe that's the age of the patent and not the machine, I really couldn't say)
But she's a darling.  Everyone these days are naming their vintage sewing machines.  This old girl isn't vintage, she's antique.  But I think she does deserve a name.
I had to leave the store empty-handed as I couldn't carry home two very heavy antique sewing machines now, could I. 
Two ;) 
Call me a fool.  No fool like an old fool.  An old fool and two old sewing machines.  Ha!
 Now I have a collection of exactly four old sewing machines.  I just need to get a sewing room again to display them.  If my husband reads this post, I've got some explaining to do.
Thanks for stopping by!

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