Category Archives: DIY

What’s on the Needles – December Edition

September, October and November were not without knitting. But they were mostly consumed with one big secret project that is now in it’s recipient’s hands, so I can tell you all about it now.Crocheted Flowers on Baby Blanket

Baby Blanket

Paul’s brother and his wife are expecting their first baby in January. We’re so excited to have our first niece! They are decorating the nursery in gray and pink and chevrons, so naturally I had to hunt down the perfect chevron baby blanket. I liked how crisp the stripes were in this lacy variety. I added some little flowers to the corner for a bit of girly flair. Thank goodness I have crochet mentors at Knit Night! If you want to know the specifics, here’s the Ravelry page.Baby BlanketSo expect lots more baby knitting in the future. 🙂

When I finished the blanket, I decided to finish something up for myself!

Sarah's Fingerless Mitts with Pints OnI knit Paul a pair of these Mittens with Pints On for Christmas last year. I had purchased yarn  to make a fingerless pair for myself and I finished those up when the blanket was finished!
Right now I’m working on this hat and cowl set for myself. I wanted a hat that was a bit large so it doesn’t make my curly hair go flat when I wear it. The hat is done, the cowl is started. I’ll post some pictures once it’s finished.

We’re very much enjoying our first Christmas season in our new home! To celebrate we made custom matching ugly Christmas sweaters!

Happy Holidays!

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The Front Room

I’ve showed you the (mostly) finished built ins. We finally got some pictures hung (cough*a few weeks ago*cough) so here are some pictures of the room as a whole. The built ins still need their lights, but the rest of it is pretty darn close to being done!

Looking in from the great room

Looking in from the great room

We actually didn’t have to buy anything for this room except for the lamp shade and the rug for the front door. That large suitcase was given to us by our friends Marcie and Joe. We had a couple that matched, and Marcie had two that matched those she wasn’t using.

From the hallway

From the hallway

A library card catalog is something I have wanted for a very long time, but they got hip and are often very expensive. We’re talking anywhere from $700 to $1,000 for one this size. I got lucky that a good friend who lives in Champaign found out that the Preservation and Conversation Association in Champaign County, Illinois was getting a shipment from the University of Illinois. A big shipment. So I called and put my name on the list and waited (impatiently) for a few weeks. Eventually I called to see if I would get one and they told me I was close enough on the list to consider that my call and to come get one! So Greer and I road tripped over to Danville, where we picked up my father in law and his truck and headed to Champaign to choose one! For a mere $107. AKA, a steal. Are the drawers full? Absolutely not. But you’d be amazed by how many small things don’t have a given home. Like flashlights and batteries and chip clips and lighters and … you get the idea.

The to do list in this room actually only includes adding the lights to the front of the bookshelves. Which is pretty awesome, if you ask me.

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The Gallery Wall

I decided this wall in the great room needed something awesome. The thermostat and air intake just weren’t doing it for us.

DSCN1603I decided I wanted to put up a gallery wall full of fun photos and even items. But I wanted to do it on the cheap. My first step was digging out every picture frame I owned. These went into four piles:

  • Use as is
  • Paint, then use
  • Save for another room
  • Donate

I decided the easiest way to keep this low cost was to use the frames I already had and find art to fit those frames, rather than coming up with a collection of art and then framing that. The bloggers over at http://www.younghouselove.com are veterans of the free/cheap/unique art, so I’ve taken some tips from them and started scouring ads in magazines and even the good ole Internet.

First steps first. Paint up those icky/outdated/un-color-coordinated frames. Some of these are pretty cheaptastic. But I already own them. So they’re free, and low budget is the name of this here game. Also, we all know how much I love to spray paint things that are less than pleasing to the eye. Or at least you’ll soon find out. 🙂

Before their makeover

Time for a new coat of paint

I roughed them all up with a bit of sandpaper, except for a couple that had a lot of detail work on them. Then I ran all of them over with a nice coat of liquid deglosser. I let those dry for about 10 to 15 minutes, then hit them up with some Rustoleum white primer. About half of the frames were metal, and I didn’t want the metal to have an adverse reaction to my paint. Then I hit them up with a few coats of Valspar Gloss Tropical Oasis (ironically the same color used on the stools I mentioned in the post about the great room … hmm … maybe we do need teal stools.) I love Valspar paint. I used it when I painted these lamps a couple years back. The paint goes on nice and smooth (the Rustoleum spray can was a bit … overly enthusiastic … shall we say.) With the lamps I just roughed them up and sprayed on a few good coats of Valspar in Satin Indigo Streamer (another color I adore.) They have held up quite nicely. Some day I might go back and hit them up with a coat of clear gloss, as they can be a bit difficult to dust.

We're halfway there!

I forgot to take a picture when they were all white and clean-slatey. Just imagine them all primed and ready for endless possibilities.

I also painted some tiny pots for a feature on my gallery wall. More on that later. 🙂

Teal-tasticI decided I was going to go with a black, white and teal theme. There are no rules to what can be in the frame, but the frame and/or mat must be black, white or teal. (I was in the garage and it got windy, thus the shoe.)

I had a lot of black frames already, as that was something I asked/registered for when we got married. I had two white shadowboxes. I decided to add a bit more balance by leaving a couple of the frames white. Rather than buying another can of spray paint, I primed them three or four times and then sprayed them with some clear gloss spray paint leftover from this project. The primer is pretty matte, but the gloss makes it look like it was actually a glossy paint. And I didn’t have to buy anything extra! Score. I primed all the frames before deciding which ones I liked in white and which I wanted to be teal.

I left those suckers in the garage for about 20 hours to destink/destickify. After about three hours of drying they were pretty much done with the smelling, but I had time to leave them in the garage, so I did. I also just know that, had I brought them in the house, Tucker would have licked one or all of them. Earlier today he licked a doorframe and then a shelf that was laying on the ground. Nothing is off limits for this dog’s tongue.

Once everything was painted and dry, I started laying them out on the floor. I had a thermostat and an air intake to deal with, so I also decided to make paper templates of all of them and used painter’s tape to lay it out again on the wall. I had to adjust a few things for the air intake, but overall it stayed pretty much the same.

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The next step was marking Xs on the paper where my nails needed to go. I used finishing nails for most of them, but I used drywall anchors for the large shadowbox and the shelf.

Then up on the wall they went!

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A lot of the frames are still empty. So the next step, of course, is filling them up! Inexpensively …

Want to see my inspiration for this project? Check out my Gallery Wall board on Pinterest!

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The Great Room

Well, it’s not perfect yet, but here’s an update on one of our favorite features of our home … the great room!

BeforeHere’s a nice before photo of when we just moved in. Oh how far we’ve come.

And here’s the same view after a little bit of cleaning. Oh, and new furniture.

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Here’s the dining room portion of the great room.

Dining RoomAnd the kitchen!

Kitchen(I just realized Tucker was being a creeper in the corner over there.) (The dining room is behind me to the right in this shot.)

And finally the office corner!

The OfficeDon’t mind the big pile of Goodwill donations next to the bookshelf.

So, of course there’s still a to do list. Here it is!

  • Hang our large clock above the bookshelf behind the desk.
  • Find some sort of piece of furniture that can adequately hide the mess of cords hanging off the front of the desk. Ugh. Some thoughts. This (two side by side in yellow with rice paper or wrapping paper or fabric or something attached to the backside of the glass) or maybe this. One piece of furniture would be ideal. I know for sure I would prefer something with doors or drawers. I would have some room to display things on top of it, and room to hide ugly office stuff behind said doors or drawers.
  • As you can see on the floor, I’m working on a little project for the wall between the picture window and the basement door. (The one the cherry poster is propped on in the first photo.)
  • I also really want a wicker chair to put in the corner behind the desk. The papasan chair is filling that space nicely for now, but I’ll keep my eyes open when I hit up the thrift stores this summer.
  • I want to find some bins to go on the square bookshelf behind the desk, so we can hide ugly office stuff in it.
  • I need to find some sort of art to go between the tv and the sliding doors.
  • Oh, and that stuff needs to find a new home via Goodwill.
  • Switch out the yellow stripey curtain for a gray set that matches the rest of curtains in the room. (My dear friend Amanda picked a pair up last time she was at Ikea, and I should be seeing her Sunday! So that should be happening soon.)
  • I’m not in love with the light fixture above the couch.
  • Find some solution to hiding the cords hanging down from the TV to the outlet. The bookshelf there helps, and I plan to put some sort of curtain/fabric backdrop between the shelf and the cords, but as some of the cords come out of the back of the shelf, I am going to have to get a bit creative.
  • Find stools to go at the breakfast bar that don’t break the budget. We’re leaning toward the stools they used in this blog. Not sure if we’d paint them or leave them in their grey metallic state.
  • Hang tiebacks for the curtains on the patio doors and the picture window. The curtains now tend to get a) sucked out the door or to the screen or b) blown into the doggie bowls. We’re adding them to the picture window for symmetry.
  • Find a new rug to go under the coffee table that matches the color scheme. Possibly DIY this from a remnant of carpet I own?

So that’s it, as it is now!

Want to see my inspiration for this room? Check out my Great Room Inspiration on Pinterest!

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My Library Card Catalog Placeholder

Ok, so I told you we didn’t leave Midland empty handed, and that is definitely true! While we didn’t find a library card catalog, some of you may have cleverly spotted something similar in one of yesterdays photos…

Printers cabinet – I also love printer’s cabinets but definitely don’t have enough tiny stuff to fill up one of those. This one was reasonable priced because it was missing a few drawers. I’m not an antiques connoisseur by any means, but there weren’t many things that I balked at the cost of (except that monkey lamp). They may have been expensive, but I could see the value.

Do you see it?

How about now?

I decided this cute little drawer could hold off my desire for a library card catalog, so home it came! For a mere $24.07.

I am not really sure what “special trips” means or what tiny things special trips involve…also, I was having a really hard time getting my camera to take an image where the text was sharp. Bah.

Now, I could have just filled it up as it was, but I thought it might be nice to have some dividers for tiny things and some bright colors, too. So I worked on it for a while, and here is my new storage:

With a pop of color

It isn’t quite filled up yet, but I’m sure I’ll find a few more things to put in there as I work in my craft room.

As of now there are some stamps, some weaving supplies, some tiny clothespins…and lots of happy color!

Owl bookends approve

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What’s on the needles?

I have been doing a fair amount of knitting, but most of it was for a gift so I couldn’t tell you yet!

Our dear friends Frances and Jackson are expecting their first baby, well, any day now. Now, I just can’t let anyone I love have their first child without getting at least a stitch or two of knitting. I really enjoyed these projects!

The first gift I made was a baby bunting using this pattern, which I actually found using Pinterest! (For knitters and crocheters, the pattern is also available on Ravelry as Top Down Baby Bunting by Amanda Lilley. Also listed in my projects. For those of you who aren’t hip to Ravelry, it’s sort of like Facebook or Pinterest but specifically for yarn crafters.)

I absolutely loved this pattern. I used Berocco Vintage Chunky yarn, which was also lovely to work with.

The next pattern was something I actually sort of went looking for. I had seen something similar and knew that Frances and Jackson were fans of Hayao Miyazaki’s films, and it turns out Totoro was Frances’ favorite as a kid! This is the main character from Totoro:

Sorry the picture quality is so bad. For reasons no one can know, I took this with my cell phone instead of my camera … and for those of you who haven’t experienced Hayao Miyazaki, I highly recommend any of his films! and I forgot in my original posting to include the pattern!

The last project did involve a needle, though not of the knitting variety. I whipped up this cute little onesie for baby to wear when he feels like getting a little dressed up:

I’ve been saving up a few things to post in a new Etsy shop soon, and you can expect to see a few more baby tie onesies there!

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Cutesy Coasters

I really love the coasters that look like they fell off a wall in some Tuscan kitchen, but haven’t been able to find them anywhere to buy, and if I do they want way more money than I am willing to pay for them. So to Pinterest I went! There are a ton of tutorials on making your own coasters using ceramic tiles. I kind of took a little bit from each one, and here’s what I came up with!

I got ceramic coasters from Lowe’s. They were 18 cents apiece, and I got 10.

I really was trying to find some scrapbook paper with more of a painted, Tuscan feel, but I wasn’t having much luck. Then I found this cute polka dotted paper that came in all the colors I have in my living room. I kind of still have my eye out for something more intricate, but for now these are cute!

My first step was cutting the paper to the right size. I wanted a white border to show around, so I cut the squares about 1/4″ shorter than the length and width of the tile.

I decided to do two coasters in each color.

My  next step was to paint a thing layer of Mod Podge onto the coaster and place the paper in the center. I then painted a thin layer of Mod Podge over the scrapbook paper. I let those get good and dry.

Drying coasters! The two that aren’t polka dotted were my practice round. I just used scrapbook paper I already had in my craft room. The coasters are in the craft room now, too.

As you can see in the picture, I did get some bubbling and buckling in the paper when it was damp from the Mod Podge. This mostly went away when it was completely dry.

The last step was to seal them with some clear spray paint. I used something that was rated for outdoor as well so it would be water proof. I put on about 4 coats I think. Most tutorials say one or two, but I wanted a glossier look than one or two coats gave me. I stopped at four because I didn’t want the paint to start to look yellow.

Spray painting the coasters, I used Rustoleum clear glossy paint

After the paint was dry I let them air out for a couple of days on the back porch and then I glued felt squares to each corner on the bottom to keep it from scratching the table.

They turned out pretty well, but we’ve been using them for a little while and there are a couple of things I unhappy with. They really are better for hot drinks because they do not absorb any of the water. The water tends to puddle on them, and one of them seems to be losing some of its paint because of that. Also, some of the bubbles in the paper that I had spray painted down have popped back up. This project is something I may revisit (or maybe just give up on!) in the future, but I definitely can’t complain when you look at the price!

Ten white ceramic tiles from Lowe’s: $1.80

One can of clear Rustoleum: $3.50

Four sheets of scrapbook paper from Hobby Lobby: $2.50

One sheet of felt: Already had, but about $1 at most craft stores

=

Ten super fun coasters!

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Teacher Wreath – Craftsmas 2011 Project 3

I had a hard time deciding what to get my lovely sister-in-law, Emily, for Christmas. It ranged from something to do with crochet (she crochets, I knit, we are both extremely challenged in the others’ craft) to a Fiestaware butter dish (something she mentioned wanting). I even tried to find their wedding registry (she got married in July) to buy something they didn’t get, but they were nowhere to be found. Then I thought of a cute project my mom made for my teacher cousin Amanda – a wreath decorated with school supplies.

First step: Fluff the wreath

Emily teaches preschool right now, so I went with pretty basic stuff. Crayons, erasers, pencils. This could easily be adapted for someone who teaches another subject. Paint brushes and pastels for an art teacher, sheet music for the band director, etc.

I started out with a blank wreath from Wal-Mart. I decided I wanted to put a tiny chalkboard on it with her name, and searched high and low for one. In the end, I didn’t find a tiny chalkboard, but realized that I already had all the makings for one. I used a piece of black cardstock, outlined it in popsicle sticks and wrote her name on it with a white out pen (Ok. Mom wrote it.)

Then we just started laying the school supplies on the wreath. When we were happy with the placement, we secured them with copious amounts of hot glue.

 

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Shhh…

It may seem I have fallen off of my craft horse, but fear not! There are projects in progress, but they are going to be Christmas gifts, so I’ve got to keep them on the down low until they have been gifted!

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Illumination – Craftsmas 2011 Project 1

I have had my eyes open for some new lampshades or lamps for our bedroom for a while. We had one nice lamp and one lamp that was originally designed (by me) to be plugged into an outlet controlled by a light switch. There aren’t any of those in our room, so it was kind of awkward and the shade was always messed up.

I decided to do some lamp shade shopping on Black Friday, because, honestly, I feel like most places want an arm and a leg for a lamp shade. It’s not uncommon to find a lampshade I like at Kohl’s or JcPenney’s website and the price tag is a whopping $45. For one. That kind of price is just not in the budget, so I decided, on a whim, to check on Lowe’s website, and hallelujah. They had several shades that I loved, that matched my room and that were in my budget, at $12 and $15 apiece. It said they had some in stock at the Lowe’s that is conveniently one block from my house, so I hit the showers and headed out. They had both shades I particularly liked, but they were drastically different sizes (something that is hard to know when looking at a website.) I threw both in my cart and hit the spray paint aisle. If I was going to buy these shades, why not go all the way? While I wasn’t opposed to the mismatched look, I happened to have two matched lamps anyway.

If these look familiar, it’s because they once upon a time lived in my mom’s living room.

The shade I bought didn’t need a harp (the wire thing that holds up a lampshade), so I took those off and threw them away. Could I have kept them, just in case I ever needed them again? Yes. Do I need to do that? No. Probably won’t need them, and if I do I can just buy some new ones.

I gave the lamps a good dusting and then took a piece of sandpaper to them, just to rough the surface up a bit for the spray paint (per the spray paint can’s request.) Two quick coats later, and I had these lovely little lamps.

Per the spray paint can’s request, I let them sit for about an hour (the can only wanted 45 minutes, but I wanted to appease it so I gave it a little bit of extra time in the garage). They were dry to the touch, so I moved them to the porch and the Great Lampshade Decision began.

I loved this pattern, and kind of liked the slim look they gave the lamps:

But wondered if they were big enough.

Looks like a no. See how the light bulb sticks above the shade? I thought about getting a smaller bulb, but they are our reading lamps and I wanted to make sure they were plenty bright.

Bigger shades! I didn’t like these quite as much, but as much as I tried to believe otherwise, the other ones were too small.

The finished product

Color close up

New old reading lamps

Maybe that’s too many photos for a simple spray paint job, but I was pretty proud of them.

Total time: 3 hours (includes trip to Lowe’s, sanding, spray painting and dry-to-the-touch time. For good measure I let them sit on the porch for about 12 hours, but it was only 3 hours of being engaged in the project.)

Total costs:

Spray paint: about $6

Shades: $15 apiece

Already had the lightbulbs and sandpaper.

 

(I didn’t find this on pinterest, though I imagine there are similar upgrades)

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