crafts · house · knitting · Life

Where I’ve been…

There is still no sign of my extra yarn for Honey, so I’ve been knitting on the February Lady sweater instead.  I actually knitted the yoke twice, because the first time it was too small.  It’s still on the small side, but I think this yarn (based on my swatch) will get bigger once I block it.

Underneath the sweater you can see another project… I took my Ikea coffee table and cut sparkley scrap book papers to fit all the inserts.  It used to have legos in it, but they were always getting dusty, which made me nuts.  Plus… sparkles!  Who doesn’t love sparkles?

On Thursday we had my piano delivered.

I am in love!  I have been relearning some Chopin waltzes these past days, so that I can play one for one of Marc’s friends who specifically requested one.  The piano was a big hit at our housewarming party, which we had last night.  We had at least 5 pianists here, not including me, and it got quite a workout!

Somehow I don’t have any photos from during the party that turned out, but it went really well – lots of compliments on the paint colors, especially the dining room, and they actually managed to eat up the insane amount of food that I made!

Thanks so much to everyone who has supported my crazy house fixing so far – we are so happy here, and at times I can’t believe we actually finally found a house that was so perfect, and that we actually live there!

Leon?  He’s just in it for the gift(bag)s!


The moment of realization

In knitting, we have many moments of realization.  The moment where you think”Hmm… maybe “close enough” wasn’t really with my guage,” or “Perhaps agreeing to knit a sweatercoat out of Lion Brand Handspun was not my wisest moment.”  Today I had my own moment of realization.

I will not have enough yarn to finish Honey.  I would have had enough, had I been more careful in frogging Manon (but we all know how tricky a Norah Gaughan sweater can be to frog!)  I ran to the interwebs, searching for more of the yarn, which of course is discontinued.  I finally found some on Ebay, and I should have it by next week (I ordered from the same place I got my first bag, in hopes of finding the same dyelot.)

So I still don’t have an FO for you all, and I was so hoping to be finished!  I am so close… I am on the last sleeve, with only sewing up remaining after that (thank goodness this isn’t one of the Kim Hargreaves patterns with everything knit separately!)

Ah well… I can swatch for something new!  I was thinking of the february lady sweater, if only because I want to use my happy skull buttons.

I’m not sure though… I have three skeins of yarn, one of which is slightly lighter, but I hate to alternate skeins, just hate it, so I’m not sure if I want to start this one yet.

I did  some more swatching…

The teal swatch (darker in person)is Elann Peruvian Highland Chunky for Linden (Twist Collective.)  I get 3.75 st/ in on size 10 needles, which is close to the pattern gauge, and I expect something this heavy and chunky to stretch a bit.  This yarn is softer than the worsted weight version, and very easy to knit with.  I’m so happy to see affordable chunky yarns – last year I had to resort to Cascade (109?) and it was not a good experience.

The green swatch is for polly, the chunky sweater from the new Kim Hargreaves book.  It uses the same texture stitch as Honey, so I am familiar.  The yarn is also Elann, this time Superwash Chunky.  My only complaint with this yarn is that it does split easily.  Again, it’s nice and soft, with a pretty sheen. I’m not sure I love it for this sweater.  I am nervous about the tendency of superwash to stretch, so I may compensate by making it a bit small.  We will see!

I also have some more living room photos.  I love the color now that my furniture is all back!  I do not like that chair, we will be replacing it as soon as we can afford to!

I even got some of my cross stitch up on the walls!

I’m starting to put things up on all the walls.  Since we aren’t painting this week, I have time to take care of smaller details (although I can’t wait for all the painting to be done, but one thing at a time!)

The cats approve.

crafts · decorating · home repairs · house · knitting


It was bound to happen.  There is no way I was going to get away with painting nine rooms (if you count the hall as a room) without making a fatal paint choice error.

I’m painting the living room this week (I’m on vacation, and we are having a housewarming party soon, so I’m anxious to get the public rooms finished.)  I had originally thought that I might paint this room yellow, but the room has a problem.  Problem #1 is that it is a sort of loft area, overlooking the stairwell and flowing into the upstairs hall, so whatever I use has to work in several areas.  Problem #2 is that when the previous owners opened up this room they built a new stairwell… out of yellow pine (the rest of the house is a mix of red oak and tiger oak.)  The yellow pine is crazy orangey, and any sort of warm shade tends to emphasize the orange, and the fact that it does not even match the rest of the stairwell.

I had decided on a sage green, which I thought would look nice with my red sofa and the blue fireplace, and which wouldn’t be overwhelming carried into the hall.  I only got as far as the window before I knew I hated it, but I continued on for another wall to make sure.  Yup… instead of the pretty sage on the card, this color looked like a gray-ish mint on the walls.

This picture actually just looks gray, but trust me that the mint was there.  It’s actually a nice color, but in my opinion it would look better with white trim.  It really gave the room a cold feel, which wasn’t what I wanted for our private living area.

I was sad because I really do love this color, but it isn’t for our home.

I decided to give the leftovers to my Mom, who is repainting her house to sell it, and started going through the huge pile of samples I have amassed, looking for a color that might work.

I threw a few up on the wall:

Yup, I still don’t like yellow.  But that blue… it had possibilities, although it looks a little bland in this photo.  It’s from the Sherwin Williams Arts and Crafts Collection.  The color is “Bunglehouse Blue.”  I decided to go with my instincts, so I went with the blue, which happens to go well with the fireplace.

Perfect!  The darker color makes the wood glow, and this blue contains enough green to avoid feeling cold with the northern light.  I need to learn to go with my instincts – I knew that light colors didn’t look great with our woodwork, but I was worried about the house being a cave.  Strangely enough, dark colors seem to work better with the dark trim.  I think it has to do with the amount of contrast.

While I was painting I discovered what color the room was painted before the owners painted to sell last year – ballerina pink.  Wow… I really cannot imagine thinking that was a good idea, but then these are the same people who repainted to sell using only mint green and butter yellow, and without using any drop cloths on the wood floors.

I had been considering using more muted colors for the bedrooms upstairs (I hope to get to those labor day weekend) but I have changed my mind based on this experience.

These are the colors I picked up today to think about for our bedroom (yes, I know I’m indecisive, you are all thinking “Didn’t she already go through this?”)  I like the two on the far left, Martha Stewart Terrarium and Ralph Lauren Alpine Pool.

The guest room will actually be next, and I am deciding between a Martha color called “chalkboard green” and an eddie bauer color called “bordeaux.”  We will not talk about how many swatches are currently on the walls.  I clearly have a paint problem.

Tomorrow this room will get a second coat (I am so pleased with the coverage of this paint, Sherwin Williams Cashmere) and then I will have a living room again.  I have hardly been able to knit, and I am so close to being finished with Honey.  Last summer I took over a month to complete the Nantucket Jacket because of the wedding, and this summer I am taking ages to finish anything because of the house – it must be something about july and august!  I cannot wait for colder weather…

crafts · decorating · home repairs · house · knitting · patterns

Kitchen painting, and yes I’m still thinking about fall!

My excitement of the day is that I set up an appointment with the piano movers, and my piano is coming to our house on next Thursday!  It’s been a good eight years since I was able to have a piano in my house, and I’m so excited I could cry (um… that’s what I do when I’m excited, apparently.)

We also got the kitchen painted.  It took three coats, and I did not prime, since the previous owners painted right before we moved in.  I didn’t think it made a difference in terms of coverage, which I thought was pretty good for a dark red!

We went from this…

To this:

I love the color so much, it’s really helped with my perception of the kitchen (of course, the kitchen is still awful if you open any of the cabinets, but it looks great from the outside!)

The job was not without it’s “why did they do that” moments, as is the case with every room in an old house.  In this case, we wondered why the owners left their telephone on the wall when they moved.

The answer became apparent when the wall was viewed from behind (this is inside a closet.)

Yes, a big old hole in the wall for the phone line, and not one, not two, but three anchor screws for the phone, which Marc and I now refer to as “the wold’s heaviest telephone.” We were lucky to be able to get at the screws from the back, I suppose, but there was plenty of patching going on after we took the phone down.  I solved the problem of a patch in a visible place by hanging my first picture in the new house!

Please ignore the wavy edging… this house has no straight lines, and this trim has many layers of paint and caulk.

Our condo had plaster walls.  I was amazed at how easy it was to hang a picture in the drywall!  This room has a large empty wall by the stairs (if we were eating in the kitchen I suppose we would put a table there, but we aren’t.)  I’ve decided to take photos of some local landmarks in black and white, and hang them all together in similar frames.  This will go with the photo above, which is of a tiny little park near our house.

And… with this room all the painting in the downstairs is finished!  It took us about a month to paint four rooms, two of which were wallpapered, and one that included a stairwell.  We are having a house warming party at the end of next week, and I hope to have the living room painted by then.  The bedrooms and the big bathroom will happen shortly after that is over.  I am on vacation until September 8th, so I’m really hoping to be mostly done by the time I start teaching again.

As a reward for finishing the first floor, I went ahead and ordered the new Kim Hargreaves book.  There are several sweaters and a hat I want to make.  I love her designs – she even makes chunky knits look elegant!

I have been obsessed with that first sweater for awhile.  I plan to use Reynolds Whiskey, which I already own.  I have kid classic in a light gray for the vest, and enough light blue 4-ply soft to make the hat.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I have been on a yarn buying hiatus for quite awhile, waiting to sell the condo, so I am trying not to buy.  I do love those coats though, in big wool and cashsoft chunky.

I also bought the new Rowan Mag, because I am not on a pattern buying hiatus, and I’m going to make the lamour slipover out of wool cotton from stash, and possibly the grable tunic, although I don’t know that I have a yarn for that…

(I think the styling on both these sweaters is awful, and neither looks the correct size for the model (isn’t she lovely?) but I like them anyway!)

I may allow myself yarn for grable, but we will see… it is expensive to move a grand piano, let me tell you!

crafts · decorating · house · knitting

Honey and chartreuse

I’ve finished the back of Honey, and I’m nearly finished with one sleeve (the sleeves are 3/4 length, but they start out with a lot of stitches to produce a little puff.)  I’m still loving this knit, and a little nervous about yarn amounts.  I have the amount the pattern calls for, but the back took an awful lot of yarn!

The bust came out to 34″, same as the smallest size in the pattern.  It occurs to me that this is similar to the nantucket jacket, which looked like doodoo on me, but I think this pattern is going to be more flattering – the decreases are more gradual, the shoulders are more narrow, and the sleeves aren’t tight.

In the meantime we have finished painting the foyer and the hallway.  These photos are a little dark, but I didn’t want to distort the color.  It’s a little brighter in there actually.

About the paint I’m using: all of the paints in the house, except for the parlor (which was a custom color) are full spectrum paints, specifically Ellen Kennon paints.  This means that they contain more different pigments than traditional colors, and tend to avoid using black pigment.  Some people can see a difference, some cant’t, and the idea is a little controversial.  I can see a difference, and I think they are worth it (the paints I’m using are a little cheaper than the really nice paint I was going to use at benjamin moore anyway, and the store is down the street from my house)I find that they look extremely different under different lights.  The photo above shows two walls painted in the same paint, but because they are getting light from different directions they look like different colors.  At night they look the same.  I love this effect, because the color is always changing.  This color, called chartreuse, is alternately a celery green, dark gold, or medium tan, depending on the light.

Next to the fireplace with southern exposure it looks green, but at night this wall is a deep beautiful gold.

Did you know we have push button lights?

The foyer and our bedroom both still have push buttons, and I like them so much that I’m replacing several other switches with new push buttons, since they were probably that way originally.  This fixture actually needs to be replaced with new push buttons(the switches are really worn), but for now I replaced the old one after painting.

Finally, meet my new best friend:

On clearance at Target, ready to suck up giant balls of cat hair and wallpaper dust(and large amounts of dirt… I’m not sure the previous owners knew how to clean.)

crafts · home repairs · house · knitting

New projects are exciting!

I have started the back of Honey, and so far it’s love at first sight.  I still can’t believe how great the stitch definition is with All Seasons Cotton, and the stitch pattern is fun and easy.  The best part? The WS rows are knitted rather than purled, making this a quick knit in spite of all the cables!  It looks like it’s going to fit with 0″ ease either direction, which is fine with me.

It’s a good distraction from my house discovery of the week.  Sometime in the 70s the plaster was removed from the house, and drywall was installed.  They didn’t do a great job, but it’s liveable.  Around the fireplace in the foyer though (the green one) they tried to fill the gap between the fireplace and the wall with drywall mud and newspapers.  When we removed the wallpaper all that came crumbling out of the crack, and now I have to repair the damage.  Ah well… I have instructions from my Dad, and I’m sure I can follow them well enough!

After the foyer is finished I will either move to the kitchen or the living room.  I’m trying to postpone a kitchen remodel for awhile, and I suspect if it were painted a less awful color (currently: butter yellow) I might like it better.   We will see…

crafts · knitting · patterns

Even more patterns

I don’t know what my deal is lately with my knitting.  I’m knitting plenty, but I seem to be totally unable to finish anything.  I think this may be attributed partly to my distraction with the house (this week I am doing the foyer and removing even more wallpaper.)  The rest is probably because we seem to have had an unusually hot summer, with far too many days where the temperature hovers around 100 degrees.  Yesterday I turned to Marc and said “We should move to Minneapolis.  I could wear more sweaters there.”  (note: we aren’t actually moving) And I used to hate winter – crazy what knitting does to you!  It makes it too hot to even wear summer sweaters, so I haven’t made too many this year.  As a matter of fact, as of today I am announcing that I am beginning my fall knitting.  Never mind that summer lingers to November here, I am going into denial and knitting some nice cabled jackets.  Wish me luck!

The first part of this plan involves shelving tempest for the time being.  It’s a nice sweater, but my row gauge is too big, causing me to have to redo the shaping, and I think I might run out of yarn.  I’m also not sure I would actually wear it.  It was, however, a nice distraction during the moving – and while the stockinette is mind numbing now, it was fun for awhile.  If I stop now, I can still make nice socks with the yarn I have, before it is all cut into tiny pieces for the stripes.

With that out of the way (I try to let myself quit a sweater without shame, but it’s hard!) I’m going to start Honey, from Nectar by Kim Hargreaves.

It’s made of all seasons cotton (frogged from Manon) and will make a great fall jacket.  I want to make something from Nectar before I am allowed to get the two new books Kim is releasing this fall.  Joy was a sad failure (well, it was pretty, but the lack of charts doomed it for me.)

The Fall Vogue Knitting is here now, and I am so pleased at the magazine – I hope this is the direction it is going now, still fashionable, but away from the crazy.  I have only bought 1 of their last 5 issues, do you know how crazy that is for me?  I will buy anything with knitting in the title!  Anyway, I am strangely obsessed with this sweater:

I cannot guarantee that I will make it, but I love the shape and the slight dolman sleeves.  I think it would be great in a solid color too.  Other sweaters I love:

Both of these suffer from unfortunate belting, but I am assured by the ravelry page for the first (by Veronik Avery) that it is not shapeless.  I have a bag of Valley Yarns Williamstown that may become this sweater.  The second sweater is by Elsbeth Lavold – I can’t think the last time I saw one of her designs in a magazine.  Again, the photo is terrible, but I like the cable and it appears to be a cozy winter jacket.  Love the collar too. I will have to carefully examine this one.  There are a few other nice sweaters in the issue, it’s definitely a keeper!

Other new releases I love: Linden by Veronik Avery, and this hoodie from Chic Knits.  I think it looks very much like a sweater from one of my 1960s books, which I love, and it also reminds me that I promised I would knit a vintage sweater this winter.  I have several good candidates, and my books are now unpacked and in the built in shelves in the parlor!

Funny that I am longing for cozy cabled jackets in the heat of August!  I’m also excited for several knitting/crochet books coming out soon, too many to list (dear condo: please sell soon so that I can afford the truck of yarn I will need to knit with this fall!)

crafts · decorating · home repairs · house · knitting


First things first… have you seen the fall edition from Twist Collective?    I want to make Victoria ,  Linden, and Little Birds, but it’s all gorgeous stuff!  I’m chugging along on the tempest cardi, and I have to say that I really love the yarn (Mountain Colors Bearfoot.)  I am a little worried about size, but it is supposed to be fitted and it is very stretchy, so hopefully it will be ok – just more fitted than a normal cardigan!

We have completed work on the parlor, except for the woodwork, but I don’t have pictures yet because the piano isn’t in yet.  Marc really liked the Sherwin Williams Duration paint, but I was less impressed.  It was very thick, kind of like pudding, and I think it is shinier than an eggshell has any right to be.  Even so, I adore the color, I hope to have photos soon!

In the meantime, we have been turning this:

mmm, hospital green

Into this:

It needs another coat, obviously, and that will be done tonight, but I am so pleased with the color against the woodwork!  This is one of the rooms the previous owners painted right before selling, and I cannot imagine what they were thinking.  That mint doesn’t even go with the beautiful wood tones a little bit.  I get the idea of green with wood (as you’ll see in a minute) but I hate that mint (which is still in my living room, sigh…)  Oh well… their bad taste is our gain, as it kept the house from selling!

I don’t even hate that chandelier as much anymore, which is a relief, we can’t afford new ones yet, because… our condo is back on the market.  The deal fell through because the buyer was going FHA, but the loan people felt that our condo association did not have sufficient savings and they refused to do the loan.  We are (naturally) very disappointed, and it’s frustrating because we aren’t able to start the larger projects in the house (ie the kitchen remodel, which has been moved up the list of important things) until we sell.   We have had several showings this week, so at least there is continued interest, but I really was hoping to be through with it by now.  And with us no longer able to take FHA buyers, it becomes much more difficult to sell in the price range.

But enough gloom – we love our new house, and it was totally worth all this aggravation.  The condo will sell, it will just take longer than I would prefer.  In the meantime, I can focus on painting my house in lovely colors, and we can at least afford the fix the bathroom (we need a new sink and floor, both are in really awful condition.)

Let me show you my colors for upstairs!  The first room is the living room, which was once a small bedroom but was opened up to create an open, loft-like space.  This means that the living room and upstairs hallway will have to be the same color, and I had trouble finding one I liked.  Here is my decision, Citrine, a lovely soft gold.

I would not ordinarily choose a yellow, but it looks lovely with the tiger oak fireplace and my red sofa, not an easy thing to do!

For my bedroom I am leaning towards a gray-ish green called Magnolia.

It goes well with the copper accents I have there, as well as the rose/green marble tiles in the fireplace.

The guest room is also green, this time peridot (I love this color, I was sad it looked icky in my room.)

The guest room gets a ton of light, although it is currently painted entirely in ultra-white ceiling paint (thanks, previous owners!)

The second floor feels very much like a treehouse, which I love (see the living room view below) and I want to use natural colors to emphasize this.

The bathroom is going to be a pale blue/gray called dusk, hopefully to coordinate with the giant stone shower.

The color is less blue and more gray than the photo – the walls are a nasty sort of pastel yellow, which my camera doesn’t like.

The ceilings are also getting repainted upstairs – they did not do a good job, and I don’t like ultra white.  The ceiling in my bedroom is actually peeling, probably a result of the wallpaper that appears to have been removed from the ceiling.

Tonight I get to demo the chair rail in the foyer and start removing wallpaper for my chartreuse foyer.  The kitchen is going to be berry red I think, but that will wait until the renovation.  I thought I could live with the kitchen, but I didn’t realize that half the drawers were unusable or that under the sink was completely disgusting and water damaged.  We’re probably going to install an ikea kitchen, but we will see…