Crafting vintage items

I just LOVE the look of vintage things. They remind me of a simpler time my parents and grandparents would talk about with longing in their eyes.

Okay, that sounds super sappy and instead of the Norman Rockwell painting it evokes, they really just started every sentence with, “In my day, we didn’t have no damn (fill in the blank) to worry about!” and they were clearly annoyed with whatever new piece of “technology” we so proudly held up in their faces.

Anyhow, I am lucky to be the owner of a few vintage craft items, like some very old crochet thread in original Coats & Clark’s boxes (although I cannot find them right now!), and the substantial pinking shears below. I wish I had the old sewing machine table my mom once used. It was the kind where you opened the wood lid, which was hinged at the side and up popped the bluish-green sewing machine! I used to drive my little Matchbox cars around it, before I developed my interest in crafting. This was an electric sewing machine, not the really old-fashioned treadle machine. That would be even more cool to have around.

pinking shears

As for the Coats & Clark’s threads, I used them to crochet this tiny little afghan and pillows for my dollhouse when I was young. I am even amazed today I was able to crochet so neatly when I was young, but my mom did sew all the motifs together to construct the afghan. It looked absolutely adorable and authentic in my dollhouse on a sweet miniature bed. These pieces must be about 35 to 40 years old (yikes!).

mini crocheted blanket and pillows

close up mini crocheted blanket and pillows

Every once in a while, I get the urge to make something that is vintage. There are plenty of patterns out there for vintage-looking knits, crocheted items, clothing to sew, and wood things to make and distress, but what I’m actually referring to is working from an old pattern, like from one of these vintage booklets.

vintage crochet booklets

These booklets are just a few examples of what were given to me by a friend who got them from her grandmother, I believe. I wasn’t sure if I would ever make anything from them, but so far, I have completed two crocheted doilies, and I am in the process of knitting a baby sweater from a 1986 magazine.

This particular doily was not difficult to crochet, but it did take some time, and I DID have to wear my cheater glasses. I love the way it turned out and it lives happily in my family room under a small lamp. Whenever I get the urge to make another one, I have about a hundred patterns to choose from!

doily close up

The current “vintage” item on my needles is this baby sweater. It’s only from 1986, so not terribly old.

sweater patt photo

It is being knit in acrylic baby yarn, instead of cotton as suggested, because like so many times, I want to knit something NOW and not WAIT UNTIL I HAVE THE RIGHT YARN. I was leafing through the magazine and saw this and wanted to start it right away!! It’s a curse.

It’s an interesting pattern, in that you knit it from the bottom up, adding a row of blue every after 14 rows of white, but the vertical blue lines are added later, with chain stitch completed with a darning needle. To assist you in doing the chain stitches and getting their alignment perfect, you knit a pattern of purl stitches every row, every ten stitches, so when you do your chain stitching later, the blue yarn lays nice and flat and makes perfectly straight vertical lines. Very clever!

front and back

I have recently completed the front and back, shown above, and am knitting the sleeves, both at the same time.That is something I like to do whenever I can because you really do get two identical things. You just have to work from two separate balls of yarn.

stranded yarn

I thought it would be more efficient to carry the white strand as I knit the one blue row, instead of cutting and reattaching the yarn, but I wasn’t happy with that stranding on the wrong side of the work. I thought maybe little fingers would get caught in the stranding and really snag the sweater. So I cut the stranded white yarn in the middle of the body of the sweater, pulled it out of its blue stitches holding it in place, then wove the ends in. There is a fair amount of weaving in on this pattern, but I don’t mind it. I know some knitters really hate this part.

cutting the strand

all that weaving

One more note on vintage things…I have wanted for some time to have a vintage camper. The problem is, we aren’t campers. But I realize that many people have vintage campers they keep on their property and it becomes a wonderful little getaway in their back yard! That’s what I want, but I would also LOVE to go camping, too. My husband feels that camping for him, however, involves a Holiday Inn Express. It’s still a dream of mine, and I love looking at Pinterest at all the vintage campers and trailers out there. I like to imagine myself hanging out in a cozy camper with a cup of coffee and a vintage project on the needles…

Maybe some day….

Thanks for stopping by!

Jenny

 

I’ve got the BLUES!

old blue car

Blue is NOT my favorite color, but when it comes to a baby blanket, and the baby is going to be a boy, then I do like it quite a lot.

finished ABC blanket

My nephew and his wife are expecting a baby boy this September so I thought I would make them a blanket. Blankets are fairly easy, depending on the pattern, but they can also be boring to knit or crochet, depending on the pattern. When I have a larger thing to make, I have to try and find a balance between “not too terribly involved” and “not so boring I won’t work on it.”

I found what I was looking for on Knitpicks‘ website. But I didn’t start on their website. I started at my favorite yarny place: Ravelry. If you’re a knitter and/or crocheter, you might have a profile on Ravelry. I do, but I haven’t been very good about keeping it updated. With the start of this blog, I do hope I have an easier time keeping my Ravelry site up to date.

I searched for baby blankets on Ravelry and got about a bazillion results. Somehow, I sifted through all the stuff and came across this lovely pattern from Knitpicks. It’s called the ABC Baby Blanket by Jenny Williams and it’s simply knit and purl stitches. It is also a charted pattern. If you’re new to knitting or crochet, you may not know what a charted pattern is. For some people, it can seem confusing or overwhelming. I, myself, am a visual person, and I find I like knitted charts just fine. I am not very skilled on reading some crochet charts, however. Below, you will see a sample of a crochet chart and a¬†knitting chart. Like a map, you need a “key” to understand what the symbols mean.

charts

This blanket kept my interest because in between 24 rows of plain old garter stitch, I had to read the charts so my blanket would have lovely graphical images of a duck, a star, a sailboat, etc. The garter stitch is what went between the nine graphical blocks. The images were knitted in reverse garter stitch on a field of stockinette stitch. If you would like to learn any of these stitches, click here to be redirected to the Knitpicks’ tutorials pages.

I used Hobby Lobby’s I Love This Yarn in Medium Blue to complete my blanket. It’s a decent acrylic yarn to use. It’s soft and easy to work with. I have had babies, and I wouldn’t want to worry about a baby blanket knit in some expensive wool or cotton, and kitchen cotton is not my favorite thing to work with (plus it doesn’t feel very nice for a blanket.) I used almost three skeins of yarn.

As for needles, I used a size 7 circular needle, because you need a circ to get all those stitches of the blanket on. I started out with a circ I had in my “collection” but it wasn’t quite long enough, so I had to go shopping. Oh darn…

My good friend (who does not knit or crochet but is an artist) and I went to visit this very cool place in a nearby town called Fine Line Creative Arts Center. I had been there for the first time in May when I was helping to chaperone a large group of high school art students who were spending the day there doing all sorts of wonderfully creative things. I learned on that particular visit that this incredible place has a shop! And they have yarn, and other fibers for weaving and such. And they have needles! I bought these 40″ wooden needles and I absolutely LOVED knitting with them. And you can see in the photo they cost $9.50, which I felt was a fair price. They sure were comfortable to knit with.

Driftwood needles

I also tried something new in this Beginner level pattern. I tried to do a Russian join, which is a way to add a new skein of yarn when you run out of the current skein. I knew a little about this type of join, but didn’t know how to do it, so I consulted Youtube. Since I don’t remember the particular video I used, I cannot share that with you here, but I can share this link to Knitpicks where they have a nice non-video tutorial on the Russian join.

I thought I did an okay job with my first Russian join, but I was nervous about it coming unraveled, because the yarn is acrylic, and I figured a wool would perform better. But I did it, then I kept worrying about it. What if I didn’t do the join in a long enough piece of yarn? What if the blanket starts falling apart on its new owners? So I picked at it until it came undone, and let me tell you, it came undone awfully easily. Boo.

Here is what I had left when I picked it apart. Looking at this now, it’s clear I didn’t do the join long enough.

unraveled join

And here is what the blanket looked like when I wove in those ends with a yarn needle.

woven in ends

So, next time I do a Russian join, I’m going to do it better. I need to have confidence that the knitted piece will not come unraveled. Or else I won’t be able to sleep at night! And I love to sleep.

As I write this post, the blanket is nicely packaged in tissue paper secured with a pretty blue ribbon and in a box, en route to its new owners, my nephew and his wife. I do hope they love it, and I hope their new son will use it for a long time.

Thanks for stopping by!

Jenny

P.S. I am in no way affiliated with Knitpicks, and I do not receive anything if someone clicks on the links to their site that I provided. I just shop on their site sometimes, and get free patterns and such.

Sock it to me

Have you ever decorated your laundry room?

The most I’ve ever done in a laundry room is to apply some cute old-fashioned laundry decals I found at the craft store. Really easy to do, and adds a homey touch to the room I spend way too much time in. But this was at my last house. I’ve lived in this current house for going on eight years, and I’ve just painted it for the first time. And it’s not very exciting as far as paint colors go, because we are moving in a year, and I need to keep things neutral (a.k.a. boring).

My current laundry room is on the second floor of my house, and out of the four houses I’ve lived in, only one had its laundry room on the main floor. It’s convenient to have it on the floor where most of the dirty clothes live.

Anyhow, today’s post is about a little sign I made for my laundry room that serves two purposes. First, it’s a little decor in an otherwise boring room. Second, my youngest son is the master of losing socks (somewhere in our house) and I constantly have a pile of single socks, and my ranting about this constant stream of single socks does nothing to change the situation. He is twelve years old, and he cannot wait to remove his socks once he removes his shoes. So I’m either ranting about the dirty socks left where ever he drops them, or ranting about the fact that somehow, only half the pair ends up in a laundry basket. Life’s deep mysteries, I tell you.

I purchased this basic wood and rope sign at my local Walmart, and I’m sorry I don’t remember what I paid for it, but I bet it was under $15 for sure. It was meant to hold photographs in the little clothespins. The wood was already distressed so that saved me a step. I had seen this saying “Clean, single and looking for a mate” on a sign that is meant to hold unpaired socks and like I always do, I said, “I can make that!”

I had also purchased the wood letters because I knew the only ones I had at home were “collegiate” style, and that wasn’t the look I was going for. In the photo, you can see where I already sketched out in pencil the lettering that I would paint by hand. If this is a scary idea to you, don’t worry: you can use more wood letters, or use rub-on letters from the scrapbooking department. If you use wood letters, you should find smaller ones than the ones you use to make CLEAN, SINGLE AND MATE.

Next, I decided on what colors to use for the sign. Since my laundry room is so plain Jane, I decided to use some colors that I saw on a paint store flyer. My colors are not exact matches, of course, but they were a good starting point.

I added white to my palette (former frozen food dish) just in case I need to adjust some colors. And as it turned out, the lime green color was way too bold and needed to be muted with the white. I know me, and it wasn’t in my best interest to match the colors I had found on the flier, but rather get close because while I liked those colors together, I knew I would like a near representation of them, too. Not everyone is adventurous enough to start mixing colors up, but the good news about a project like this is, you do not need a lot of paint. In fact, look at the palette pic above: that’s too much color for a few 1″ high wood letters.

Another quick note about these particular letters: they have what appears to be a light wood stain on the edges of the letters, leaving the fronts and backs unfinished and ready to accept whatever paint or stain you want to put on them. I used a basic small flat paint brush to paint my letters, and as seen in the above photo, I simply used a straight pin to hold the letter while I painted it. I am too impatient to paint half the letter, let it dry, then paint the other half. I don’t have all day! Also, I only painted the fronts. I did not touch the sides. It will never be seen or looked at that closely.

As for what letters should be painted what color, I didn’t think too hard about this. I just painted a few one color, painted a few another color…Just don’t paint the same color next to itself.

Laying the letters out in their proper order really helps you to determine what colors you want to paint what. Plus, you can always paint over a color with a different color once it dries. This is a very forgiving medium.

And here I am muting the electric lime green color with some white. The pale mossy green at the bottom center of the photo is right out of the bottle, and I wasn’t sure about it at this point. Just ignore that for now.

Now I have painted with the purple, the light blue, and the muted lime green.

Now, this paint color flier had this lovely peachy tone and I tried to make it by mixing some pink with muted lime green, and I got close, but not where I wanted it to be. So I took my bottle of horrendous Halloween orange and added a dab to the palette so I could add just a little to get the peachy tone I was looking for.

Your letters should dry fairly quickly, so long as you’re using acrylic craft paints, and thin coats of it, and it’s not too terribly humid where you are. When the letters are dry, it’s time to arrange them the way you want them on the board and decide if the way you plan on doing other lettering still works.

**A note about letter arrangement: When I first opened the letters from their packing, I realized I didn’t have enough room on the wood plank to spell out all the words with wood letters. I am totally unafraid to hand letter things, so it wasn’t a big deal for me. If you are thinking of doing a project like this, try to figure out in the store, before you buy, whether or not what you want on your wood plank will fit. If not, consider doing some words in the wood letters, and consider an alternative like a paint marker, or rub-on scrapbooking letters.**

Like I mentioned before, I decided right away to hand letter the rest of my words, and I had used a pencil to sketch them out. I just needed a smaller paint brush, and I decided to use black paint muted to a charcoal with a little bit of a light color already in my palette.

To the left is the small brush I used to do my lettering.

I painted on a very non-committal comma first.

And here is the rest. It’s not perfect, but I am happy with it. Now is the time to glue the painted letters on.

This is the glue I used to attach the wood letters to the plank. It only takes a little glue. You probably don’t want it squishing out from behind the letters and creating a glue blob here and there.

This is the method I used to glue the letters on. I arranged all the letters on the plank. Then I picked up any letter that wasn’t the first letter. In this case, “L.” I put glue on it, then replaced it on the plank. I then was able to glue the other letters in the word “CLEAN” without worrying about having the spacing right. The good news is, with glue like this, it doesn’t dry immediately where you can’t slightly slide the letter around a bit to get it exactly where you want it. Hot glue would make this more difficult.

At some point, I decided to try the mossy green color on a few letters, and I was really pleased with that result. I also muted the lime green even more. I was glad I did. So here is the finished piece. I’m really happy with it, and I’m also happy the small clothespins hold the socks! I was thinking I may have to swap them out with full size clothespins, but nope–they do the job. And I fully expect my son to end up with more than four orphaned socks at once. Because I know this kid, I may have to add some clothespins, and then some more rope….

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you have a wonderful day!

 

Back to blogging

How many of us have started a blog, maintained a blog, and then stopped blogging for some reason?

I would venture a guess of quite a few. There are many, many reasons why it doesn’t work out. The biggest reason I have found is time.

Let me start by introducing myself. My name is Jenny, and I make stuff, and not just microwaved breaded chicken and gin and tonics… No, I make things. I knit, crochet, paint, craft in general. It’s something I’ve always done since I was small and now, well into my forties, I find I must still make stuff. Sure, I’ve stopped making dollhouse dishes out of backyard clay, but I have the same thought process.

And regarding time, when you make something and want to share the process with whomever will listen, it takes time to snap all those pics and get them assembled with actual words into a meaningful and hopefully helpful blog post. And I’m not all that great at the snapping photos part.

I don’t work in a beautiful dedicated “studio.” I sometimes hang out in my unfinished basement, competing with two boys who love to drag out all the tools and then not know what to do with them. Sometimes I hang out on the sofa, competing with the cat, who thinks she has the supreme right of being on my lap at all times. Sometimes, I knit or crochet in the car while my husband drives. It’s never uncommon for me to have three or four projects going at once.

Now, to explain the title of this particular blog post, “Back to blogging,” it means that I once had a blog, and I had like three readers. My best friend, and my mother- and father-in-law. The in-laws think I’m funny. Or crazy. My last blog lacked direction, however, and because of other things going on in my life, I didn’t stick with the blog and I regret that, even though I had three readers. Three dedicated readers…

See, now that my boys are older (17 and 12) and require less of my hands-on parenting (they totally microwave their own breaded chicken), I have more time on my hands than I know what to do with. My house isn’t super-tidy. There are walls that need painting, and closets that need purging, but I need more than all that. I haven’t had a job outside of being a mom for 18 years. That is a very weird statement for me. I enjoyed working and worked right up until my first son was born. But becoming a mother changed me, and I found I couldn’t go back to work. More on that in another post, perhaps.

So this new blog is dedicated to all the stuff I make. Sometimes it’s a knit sweater, sometimes a crocheted Amigurumi thing, sometimes a cardboard creation. And sometimes it may be food. I forgot to mention that I really like food.

So, if you stumble upon this blog, and you like to make stuff too, have a look around and leave a comment. Or if you don’t like to make stuff and you are really, really bored, have a look around anyway! I am also happy to help others with their crafting dilemmas. I have been on call for a certain relative who shall remain nameless for help with all things knitting…and I LOVE IT. Cheers!

 

Jenny