Sunday, March 17, 2019

warp speed

I've been working my way through my crafty Christmas gifts!

First up, a Kobuk hat knit in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted Tweed (thank you, Eileen and Dad!) in the colorway Smoke. I've been dying for an excuse to buy one of these super soft pom-poms, so I snagged one at my local yarn store during a recent shopping trip with Kathy. As is tradition, I had to re-knit this hat multiple times to get the sizing right. Good thing hats are so quick!

Next up, a pair of Fiesta Mittens! These were knit with the very colorful Koigu Painter's Palette Premium Merino and black Berroco Ultra Wool Fine. There's a different stitch pattern on the front and back of the mitten, which really shows off the Koigu yarn!

Since I was feeling a bit guilty about my selfish knitting, I decided to make a few things for Mae. First, a kid-sized pair of Fiesta Mittens. I simplified the thumb a bit, so I was able to finish these up in just a couple days. She loves them!

Finally, a totally new-to-me craft: weaving! Dan bought me a 15" rigid heddle loom (Schacht Cricket) for Christmas, and I've been itching to try it out. The loom came with 2 balls of Brown Sheep Nature Spun Worsted, so I warped with the purple color (Boysenberry) and wove with the blue (Fanciful Blue). It took me a few inches to get the edges looking okay, but it was so fun (and quick!) once I got the hang of it. Expect to see more weaving projects (and therefore more blog titles with weaving-related puns)!

Details on my Ravelry page for the Kobuk hat, Fiesta Mittens, kid-sized Fiesta Mittens, and the woven scarf.

Monday, March 4, 2019

wains world

In my last post, I briefly mentioned the new wainscoting in our dining room. Considering how much time and planning went into this trim work, I think it deserves a little more attention that just a sentence or two! We opted for picture frame moulding, attaching rectangles made of thin wooden trim (like picture frames) directly to the plaster or drywall. Picture frame moulding is the easier and more cost-effective cousin of the more traditional recessed panel wainscoting.

Our dining room already had a chair rail installed, so we worked around that existing feature. I love the look of white paneling below the chair rail and a deeper color above, though some people opt for the darker (and visually heavier) color below the rail instead.

There seem to be two approaches to installing the picture frame moulding. One camp prefers to pre-assemble the squares using precise measurements and a jig to get perfect 90 degree corners. When the boxes are made, they attach them to the wall. The second camp measures and attaches each piece as they go, building the square directly on the wall. We weighed (and argued about) the two options extensively, but ultimately decided that the second method would work better for several reasons. Our walls are not square, level, or flat. We were worried that a perfectly square box wouldn't line up with both the chair rail and the baseboard. We were also worried that it would be hard to attach the pre-assembled box in parts of the room where the wall bows outwards slightly. Attaching the pieces one-by-one to these bulged wall sections allowed for a bit more flexibility.

To start the process, I used a section of 2x4 as a guide to mark the outline of the boxes on the walls. A 2x4 is actually about 3.5" wide, which was approximately the spacing I wanted from the chair rail and baseboards. This ensured that the tops and bottoms of the boxes would run parallel to the rail, and it seemed more important visually to be parallel than perfectly level. Next I precisely measured each side of each box. No box was a perfect rectangle with all sides being slightly different lengths, which reinforced our choice of method 2 (building boxes on the walls instead of pre-assembling). We added up all the measurements, added 10% for scrap/mistakes, and spent an hour selecting the straightest trim pieces at the hardware store.

At this point, I wanted nothing more to do with this project. Over it. I just wanted it done. I was stressed about finishing the project and worried that it wouldn't turn out with how much time/thought I'd already put into it. Plus, power tools make me a little skittish. So, I called in the reinforcements. Dad came to visit for the weekend, and brought along two critical tools: a power miter saw and a nail gun with air compressor. While we COULD have accomplished this project with a miter box and a regular hammer with a nail punch, Dan and Dad were able to finish cutting and installing all the trim in one Saturday (while Mom and I entertained Mae).

Over the course of the next week, I primed (to cover my pencil marks), filled, spackled, caulked, and painted the trim and walls. The caulk helped to hide all the (very minor) sins of my trim installers like nail gouges and slight imperfections at the corners. I chose the color that most closely matched the existing chair rail and window trim so I wouldn't have to repaint those also (untinted Sherwin Williams semi-gloss superpaint... very glamorous).

I'm so pleased with how the trim turned out. It's added a lot of drama to a previously drab room. While it wasn't a difficult or expensive project, it did take a lot of planning and effort. Well worth it, in my opinion!

Saturday, February 23, 2019


Today is the one year anniversary of moving into our house! I spend so much time dwelling on my to-do list, that I thought it would be fun to look back on my did-it list. So here's a look at everything that's changed since we moved in!

While it was nice to start with a "blank slate," the cream-colored walls (and ceilings) quickly started to wear on me. We bought this house for so many practical reasons (location, price, space, layout), but I have struggled to build an emotional connection to it. Each time I finish painting a room, the house feels a little more like home.

First up, our entryway. We changed out the light fixture (does a bare light bulb qualify as a "light fixture?") for a lantern-style pendant. I painted the door in SW Dignity Blue. And I spent an embarrassing amount of money, effort, and time replacing the corroded brass door handle and trim set. (Worth it.) New shutters and landscaping are still in the future.

Next, one of the most impactful painting projects I've done: the built-in bookshelves in our living room. They just needed a little love when we moved in. We replaced a section of shelving, and I painted the back SW Web Gray. I love the dark backing, which really helps to show off all our pretty books and knick-knacks. We've been seriously hurting for bookshelf space since we "hacked" the IKEA shelves in our old house, and these give us plenty of room to grow our library. Plus, I get to display my vintage puzzles and my charm box.

The rest of the living room is painted SW Liveable Green with patterned curtains from IKEA. The room could use some decor (lamps, console table), but I'm very proud of my thrifty fern pictures. I downloaded the pictures for free, printed them at Staples, and put them in cheap frames from Michael's.

The dining room is probably our crowning achievement to date. We replaced the light fixture with this fantastic one from West Elm and added a ceiling medallion. I painted the ceiling a crisp white. Over the course of a weekend, Dan and Dad installed the wainscoting/moulding below the existing chair rail. I caulked and painted the bottom white and the top SW Green Bay. The color took me a while to choose, but I love how it works with the curtains (IKEA again).

I'm currently searching for the perfect wall decorations. I have one item that's made the cut, Dan's watercolor print of Cafe 210 West from Penn State. The original frame, a dark wood, blended into the walls too much so I refinished it using Rub 'n Buff (ridiculous name, excellent product). I blended gold and silver to make this champagne silver color. I also replaced the gray matte with a white one.

I decorated Mae's playroom shortly after we moved in. This room is an addition off our kitchen and has been great for keeping the toys contained and not exploding all over our living space. I bought the flower painting from Target and the colorful rug online (Wayfair, they had just what I need). I made the Valentine's garland from felt hearts and baker's twine. It looks so cute in here, I might just leave it up year-round!

I'm also growing a mini-jungle in the bay window. This room gets so much light! Plus, it's the perfect spot for my Flying Pig poster.

Next up, our bedroom. I used the same color card as our old bedroom (SW Dovetail), but several shades lighter (SW Repose Gray). The rug is from HomeGoods, and I finally bought new bedding from Macy's after pining for this comforter set for a few months. My favorite thing in the room (besides our wedding pictures of course) is the gold wire-framed mirror from Pier 1 that hangs over our dresser.

Are you wondering what happened to Mae's art gallery that used to adorn the wall over my desk? Don't worry, it has found a new home leading up the stairs! I need to swap out some of these pictures soon, but I just love her tiny handprint art!

Okay, I'm bending the rules a little here... I actually finished Mae's room before we moved in. I kept everything the same as her old nursery, to ease the transition to our new house. (Actually, it was because I just wasn't ready to give up her confetti curtains after working so hard on them.) A new blackout roll shade keeps the room dark for nap time. I installed trim pieces to separate the walls from the dormer ceilings, so I could paint the ceilings white and the walls Sherwin Williams Rainwashed. We had a custom-sized piece of carpet bound by a local flooring store, which is an affordable way to get a large, decent-quality area rug. (Yep, Mae's still in a crib. She hasn't realized that she could easily climb out. I'm hoping we don't have to give up her cage... erh, crib... any time soon. Giant Knit Bunny agrees with me.)

I haven't yet done anything with our office, kitchen, guest bedroom, or upstairs bath, so you'll have to wait on photos of those rooms. However, there is one last space that deserves a mention: this pink paradise.

Sure, it looks good here, but our main floor guest + master bathroom is in need of some serious love. It has cracked tiles, dated (not original) fixtures, and a general air of... sadness. Fingers crossed, we will have a contractor gutting this beauty in about a month. I can't wait!