Plans to spruce up the dining room have been moving slowly, but I did manage to fit in a quick little project last night. (There are times when, even though there are many other things to be done, I'm just not going to feel productive in any regard until I just make something. Do you ever feel that way?)
On the wall above our buffet (the one I plan to repaint at some point) hangs a simple black shelf which has always contained various arrangments vignettes and collections. It was a nice idea, but really has never done much for this space (its dressed in it uninteresting way in this photo). The collections themselves were always underwhelming and seemed to fade into the shelf. I've mentioned this room needs color and things that are less heavy visually to balance the lack of natural light. Plus, I'd like to continue to ignore the paint color on the walls (which I don't totally hate, but definitely plan to repaint).
This embroidery hoop display, from The Purl Bee, has been on my list to do for a long time, but it never made sense anywhere in our house till now. It has really added some pizzazz to this room. Plus, if there is one thing this girl has got, it.is.fabric. So I may as well use what I have. Plus this project is so easy, and you know I like easy.
I've been picking up plain embroidery hoops at the thrift store for a couple of months now, with this project in mind. (Often getting several taped together for around a $1). For fabric choices, I started with that green and blue (larger hoop, right of center in the above photo), a Japanese fabric by Suzuko Koseki (who I just saw has a new book coming out next year). From there, I simply built around it but not overthinking placement, just trying to get a good assortment of patterns I'd like to see every day, without filling it all with flowers for Peter's sake.
Here's another colorway of that same print.
And I finally cut into my piece of fabric from Lisa Congdon. I love it.
Thank you all for the encouragement on my granny squares.I'm still making them, and I'm still having fun, so I accomplished my crochet goal. A few asked about pattern, and I highly recommend Yvonne's granny square pattern, its an easy one to follow if you alreayd know a little crochet. Lelia pointed out the granny square pattern on The Purl Bee that I'd forgotten about, thank you! At Monday's class, I learned how to join the squares together, as well as add a scallop edging, so I think I'm set. Now I just need to update our movie queue, quit saying yes to every volunteer opportunity at school, and I just may have a blanket by the end of the winter.
I took my first crochet class at Assemble last Monday evening and, even though I left wondering if I'd get the knack, a couple of days later it all clicked into place. After years of crochet brain blockage, some stray neurons in my brain must have found each other and fused.
In other words, my dear readers, the crochet revolution at the wise craft household has begun in earnest. I can't stop!
I.am.in.love! Compared to even the simplest of knitting projects, these granny squares feel so much more like instant gratification. Deciding which colors will be paired up for each new square is delightfully fun, the rounds just fit in my hands, the ability to see a mistake, take it out and redo it without recounting from the beginning is great. (I'm told these are all very much going to actually be square in the end, something that was really bugging me at first). Did I mention how much I love to pick the colors for each one??
There are themed granny squares with specific colors combos. Like this one. A replica of my favorite preppy outfit in high school...a white shirt with yellow piping around the collar (in the preppy, southern language at the time, these were called Tanner shirts and we all had several, but all were white with contrast piping), kelly green Levi cords (I wish I still had those for Emma), and a heather gray monogrammed cardigan...
This one is very much like Ian's baby room colors...
Tonight is our 2nd and final class, the one where hopefully I will learn to crochet these all together (what will this be? A scarf? A pillow? Something bigger? We'll see.) and create an edge around them all.
Youtube videos didn't teach me, kid's crochet books didn't do it for me, nothing really taught me until I sat in that class and had a real, like teacher sitting over me walking me through the steps. Just like knitting, once my hands had memorized the motions, it became quite effortless. But mind you, every single one of these is different in some way (translation- messed up). Two double crochet when I should have done three, things like that. But it seems like these granny squares are forgiving enough in some cases that it will still all work, I'm over trying to make them all perfect.
I am timing myself by sitcoms on Hulu that I watch with Emma and Ian on the weekends (they get one episode each Friday and Saturday before bed, their choice). One and a half granny square can be completed during a half hour episode of Bewitched or Alf. More can be completed during bad movies (I practically completed a whole blanket during Date Night.) Less during Project Runway. You get the idea.
One of the reasons I fell in love with this house, the large front porch. So many houses we'd looked at didn't have a front porch. I grew up in North Carolina, and kept thinking "where do you sit outside if you don't have a front porch"? Well, sure there's the back yard, totally fine, but where was I going to sit and see my neighbors?
Nice thought, but there's not really a ton of time to do much sitting out here in reality. In fact, we don't even come in and out of the house through the front door (we use the garage entrance). So, this porch often gets neglected.
I did a big clean out of my craft room/studio last week and used some of the materials I had on hand to make a wreath. Just different types of faux mosses and moss covered rocks from Joann's, mixed with some shiny black rocks. (You see, when you're me, you actually do have all this stuff lying around.)
Everything was hot glued on. Took about 20 minutes.
I found this blue and gray plaid flannel fabric at Joann's a few weeks ago. It so wonderful, I had to resist buying it all up (even the lady behind the cutting counter commented "seems like we're getting something right this season"). (And I think its 40% off this week too.) I've wanted to make some type of the "falling leaf pillows" project from the Martha Stewart Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts since I got the book, so I did some for the porch (I talked a little about this book before, its great). The leaves are from the CD of templates in the book, made with some scrap wool felt I had.
The leaves are applied with double sided fusible webbing, and then I stitched the "veins" through all the layers of the front of the pillow. I usually make an envelope back for my pillows, but because these will be outside, I stitched all 4 sides closed.
Now we will need to invite some people over so that someone will come up on the porch to see.
Thank you so much for the quilt love yesterday!
I am so excited to finally release the Sunshine Medallions Quilt pattern out into the world! There's been lots of churning away on this little baby behind the scenes, but it is finally ready.
I have scaled down the size of the squares a little from my original in order to keep the patterning intact for smaller sized quilts. Such a doable pattern is for a beginner, or an experienced quilter. Its all about enjoying the process of creating the color story, and making it your own. I hope you like it!
Thank you to all you guys who have been encouraging me to do this! Thank you all for reading, caring, and helping me nurture my creative thoughts in this space.
I already have a new pattern in the works.
The pattern can be purchased as a downloadable PDF here.
Edited- I totally forgot that I wanted to give away some of these! (Need more coffee.) Just leave a comment here on this post and I'll draw three names at the end of the week.
Winners have been chosen, thank you!
I went though my stash of wool yarn (which I'm happy to say seems to be dwindling down) to pick out suitable colors for my crochet lessons coming up at Assemble). Of course, I didn't have all the colors needed to create my dream granny square piece (which could be a pillow cover, or bigger, who knows?) so I ran in to Weaving Works to pick out a few extra shades. I'm very happy with the color palette I've pulled together so far, I'm channeling Sandra's gorgeous work for some color inspiration. I'm envisioning a gaggle of granny squares in combinations of the blues, green, gold, lilac pink, and some grays, all framed and joined with the cream. I'm so excited to finally break this crochet barrier in my brain. (Now I just need to take control of our Netflix cue.)
Other good stuff:
Anthology, I've already ordered my copy...home inspiration in print magazine form we can hold in our hands again! I'm excited!
Pinterest- When I redid the inspiration board on my studio wall for Fall, it felt a bit empty and I realized that lack of printed decor magazines mean lack of tear sheets and scrap. (The few I still get, like Living Etc, I only scan, I can't bring myself to tear from them just yet). Luckily though, I started using Pinterest, which is very much a virtual pinboard, and can now have all my images together online. I'm still getting used to using it regularly, but if you click on the button on the sidebar, you can see what I've pinned so far.
Superchunk is back!
Aaaand, I've got some exciting news coming this week, stay tuned.
Wow. I guess I hated our black dining room so much I can't find a good picture of it to show you. This is actually the photo I put on craigslist last month when I put the table and chairs up for sale. (Click directly on the photo to go to the Flickr page and read the notes about the room.)
OK, I realize there are some out there who might be saying "Sell? I like it? Why sell it? Don't you ever stop?"
Oh wait, that's Peter saying that...
We bought this table, chairs, and buffet for our last house and it was a perfect fit at the time. There was a large, bright, and airy front room that spanned the width of the house, used for the living room and dining room. The black was a really nice contrast to the furniture in the front of that room, gave it some separation, and plus, it just felt "grown up" to us (our first real grown up type of furniture...not a hand me down or bachelor piece that came with us).
But, in this house, it's just never worked. The size worked, but the only light that comes into this room is eastern light from the french doors, and the light is angled just perfectly enough to show every. piece. of. dust. that hits those black surfaces.
And I hate to dust.
Plus the formal, dark feel doesn't really fit us anymore. Anyone who's been here for dinner knows we're casual people.
So, there you have it, the state of affairs we began with in this room. In the photo above, I had already had the light fixture over the table changed (thank you IKEA) and it looks loads better. But, we have now changed the table and more is to change very soon. Stay tuned...
I am so happy to welcome Liz at cozyblue back on wise craft. And with a beautiful new collection. You may remember her family tree collection that I have featured here before. The newest collection of handmade pillows, appropriately named the faux folk collection, feature graphic, modern interpretations of traditional patchwork quilting designs. A saturated shades of your choice is screenprinted onto a cream base cotton fabric. I love how modern these feel, and I asked Liz to tell me a little about the inspiration behind this collection. Here's what she had to say-
The faux folk pillows are my version of traditional folk art quilt block patterns. Each one is essentially a very basic version of a design that is conventionally very intricate and complex. I was inspired by the beautiful, but more elaborate and intricate, piecework designs of classic quilt blocks. When you strip away the fabric patterns and the colors in a sewn quilt block, and how those elements relate to each other (and to the pattern), what remains is just a beautifully simple and bold, fun design. I really wanted to highlight those basic graphic designs of the pattern, and deconstruct it into it's essential shapes. The screens for these pillows were burned directly from my sketches, so they definitely have that great handmade, wonky quality (as did the traditional quilt blocks themselves). I love that. I've chosen four new ink colors -- midnight blue, pumpkin, sky blue, and berry -- and i think they're just perfect for fall.
clockwise from top left: grandma's flower garden in midnight blue, old star in pumpkin, bear paw in berry, and cat's cradle in sky blue. Each pillow is 12" x 12" with an envelope back. Any of the designs can be done in each of the colors. Thank you Liz!
If you are interested in becoming a sponsor on wise craft, email me at email@example.com and I'll send you all the details.
...to continue coming up with these super nice-looking and creative lunch ideas.
...to not give up on the quest for our family dinners together, even though we just somehow got ten times busier.
...to remember to help Emma review her multiplication tables (which we conveniently forgot to do for most of the summer- woops).
...to help the kid with the worst handwriting in history as he begins to learn cursive.
...to continue to open and at least skim the daily dumping of school emails into my inbox.
...to remember that life is good, in all its forms.
A happy box arrived from the mailman this week, my project for the Fall 2010 issue of Stitch Magazine. I wanted to do a denim quilt for their "Discover Denim" section in this issue, repurposing cast off denim jeans, and thankfully the editors loved the idea. Using the millions of shades and washes that denim jeans come in these days, I came up with the Facets quilt.
I was going for an less traditional, slightly more modern patchwork feel, and hopefully that's what I got. The facets are created the play of the light, medium, and dark shade denim shades (these were so fun to pick out at the thrift store). The construction is a combination of squares and half square triangles, easy for someone with even a little quilting experience.
The darker denim shades create a zig-zag effect going across the quilt. I really like the way those dark grays look with the darker blues.
A part that you can't see in the magazine (which is actually one of my favorite parts of the quilt) is the solid cornflower blue flannel backing. It felt very fun to have a surprise color on the back. The binding is dark blue flannel. You see, while I was making this quilt I got all melancholy, thinking about some kids I know who were headed off to college this fall. I was thinking that a quilt like this would be a great bed cover for those standard dormroom-issue beds. The flannel would be warm (important in my mind, because my dorm rooms were always either too cold or too hot, and very drafty), and it would be so fun to incorporate the child's favorite outgrown jeans, even details from the jeans (like maybe stylishly patchwork knees?). As my mind wanders when I construct quilts, I tend to make up little scenarios like this...silly...
And because I would never ask you to quilt through layers of denim, and I wanted to add some surface interest, I tied this quilt in the centers of the lighter sections with worsted wool yarn in 2 colors of gray. When the quilt is washed, the wool felts up nicely, further securing the ties.
I have been distracted this week by kids starting school, carpool set ups, soccer practices, attempts at creative lunch ideas, our upcoming weekend garage sale, and trying my damnedest to sit us all down at the dining room table for dinner each evening. The other day Peter cracked a simple joke that sent me into a puddle of tears I never saw coming. Whoa! I guess I had more on my mind than I realized. But today it feels like things are evening out. We are good. We are lucky. So so lucky. Thank you all for your nice comments this week and checking in with me. Next week I start redoing the dining room. Care to join in and see the progress?