More things that aren’t what I thought they were or what they started out to be…

I seem to be on an uneasy roll wherein I can no longer trust anything…

Including the season…

grackles

Clouds of grackles and redwing blackbirds have been stopping over in the yard, and the hyacinths began to pop up – it’s been grey but warming.

fresh snow

Then more of this – more than I thought was coming (but it didn’t last long).

mesh yarn

We’ve been talking about dressing more safely/noticeably when walking on the road to a little trail head nearby and considered buying some of those neon vests construction workers and police officers wear, but then I saw a bag of neon yarn at the big box and thought I could whip up some sort of vest/cowl/bib thing that could be more fabulous than the plastic vest.

Only it turned out to be mesh yarn… So I can make scruffly safety boas instead?

lovely flannel

And I ordered what I hoped was the last bit of fabric for curtains for the near future and on impulse added a few yards of a lovely colored plaid flannel to my “cart.”  I’d been thinking about making some loose tunic-like shirts in plaid… Only it ended up being this incredibly thick, luscious stuff without the drape of cheapass flannel… What now? PJ bottoms, pillow cases…? Or do I need to sew an actual shirt that fits well and has buttonholes? I don’t feel like paying that much attention to detail now, but this stuff deserves something nice.

selbu pancake

I like berets – I have thin hair and berets don’t smash the top front down, so I whipped up a Selbu Modern because it is called a beret.  But in the pattern pictures it looks like a floppy hat – whatever those are called – floppy berets? The kind of hat good for dreadlocks or stuffing thick hair?  But it looked like some people blocked theirs to look more like a tam sort of beret. But no, even after some intense blocking mine is floppy… it’s fine, I like floppy hats, but I already have enough hair-smashing hats, and still need another that isn’t – especially this time of year.

Little shelf-before

So I turned to some predictable projects. I picked up this sad little shelf/nightstand/table thing at a thriftstore recently. It had a terrible hack plywood shelf and a crackled paint that may have been intentional, or may have been the result of a fire, or may be evidence of something evil and toxic and brain-robbing. But I love old stuff. And I love that it was $7.00. And I love small light furniture that is still wood and yet it takes little effort to move around.

Little shelf-during

So I stripped and stripped and stripped (the furniture) and took out the crap shelf, debated about putting in a better one but didn’t, and painted the whole shebang.

Little shelf-done

I’m still not sure where it’s going to go, and the aqua works in some rooms and not others (I just mixed up some old sample paints) but I’m happy with it – and happy to feel a bit less off-kilter again.

little shelf-in situ

For now, it’s here.

Can you spot the other thing with the Selbu Modern pattern?

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On getting rid of things, part II – of prom dresses and punch bowls

prom dress detail

I still have my prom dress.

I still have two of them actually, but the other one is a very basic and classic black crepe cocktail dress that still fits and no one is the wiser that it’s over 20 something years old – I was a practical, though still obnoxious, teen.

But I really don’t have a really good reason for keeping this one.

My prom wasn’t magical – my date wasn’t my teen heartthrob soul mate (though he was very nice guy), I don’t even remember the venue or the dinner, I’m sure too many country ballads were played followed by metal ones – especially the kind that had a confusing beat of neither slow nor fast, or started slow but ended fast…  And I’m pretty sure I was still suffering from an extended bout of mono, or pneumonia, or other disease that would have finished me off had it been a century earlier.

I remember getting the dress at a small department store, and it was certainly on sale – I wanted something vintage-looking, and I can’t remember why I didn’t actually wear vintage since I had a few 1950s party dresses, but maybe it was because I’d already worn them to other mediocre small-town high school dances?

I considered myself of the counter culture and was non-conformist, so I’m not sure why I didn’t go in drag – I had a lovely old tuxedo from my great uncle Oscar and a sleek pair of grandpa’s wingtips that my freaky feet and lanky frame filled out sufficiently.  But I think I wanted to do something a little more classy – a little more normal – which was abnormal for me.  But then again, this was the ghastly time of the giant hair and jarringly bright, or sickeningly pastel colored gowns, so a black and white dress was different…

But, I’m wrong.

BrenKellyCamera

Apparently, it’s damn close to the most popular prom dress of 1991 thanks to Beverly Hills 90210.

But, in my defense, I never saw the show, and I doubt many others in my ass-backward town did… And I think my dress was from the year before anyway?

So I’m not sure why I still have it, or what to do with it – it’s not the style of teens today, nor does it scream 1980s to allow for ironic wear – and simply dropping it off at the thrift store hasn’t happened. I don’t have the desire to wear it while vacuuming, or cut it up for a satiny small quilt, or buff the car with it, or line a dog’s crate, or wear it as a Halloween costume of myself in my youth, or save it in case one of the nephews might be inclined to wear it fabulously, or modify it in some way to make it acceptable formal wear again…

In the meantime, I’ve been using it as padding wound around an old punch bowl – something else I haven’t used in over a decade…

And an update to part I:

dictionaries - Copy

I still haven’t decided whether or not to get rid of my print dictionaries, but I see that others have…

(And you gotta love a thrift store that actually categorizes their books!)

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In like a lion or, a fox…?

March arrived with a couple of little back to back icy storms, but it held the promise of a thaw…

blue-fox

And then we had a satisfying morning watching the neighborhood fox hunt (unsuccessfully) in the yard…

blue-shovel

Followed shortly thereafter by more f*cking snow.

So it’s back to the wintertime blues.

Quite literally – I realized much of what I’ve been working on lately is blue, which is a little odd for me…

blue-sperry

Like this Sperry sweater (I’m a little afraid it doesn’t have as much ease as I’d like, but I’m not quite far enough along to know for sure…)

blue-velvet

And this scrappy little quilt made from clothes that were both mine and not that’s much farther along than this now…

blue-stole

And finally, this big “old shale” stole out of recycled yarn.  I wanted to restock my etsy shop with some handknits like this, but I think etsy has gotten too evil for me – do you have a suggestion for a new marketplace site to use for handmade goodies?

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Rage against beige – or – the project with the very unexpected turn

I love almonds.

I love them raw, toasted and spiced, ground up in cake, made into marzipan (or hell, the paste straight up by itself) smashed into butters, and I prefer almond milk to the other dairy alternates.

In no way, however, do I like almond as a color.

Nor beiges and sands and driftwoods and the darker ivories and all that is considered “neutral”* but really isn’t because you have to work with something pale yellow/brown/grey that isn’t really any of those, but is all of those in an ugly drab grouchy tone.

When we first toured our house, I was assuming that one of my first projects would be to rip out the almond bath because I assumed it had to be at least 30 years old and the toilet was one that wasted multiple gallons of delicious fresh water.  But once we moved in, I discovered to my horror, that the toilet is a recent-ish low-flow good one.

I also hate vinyl flooring, especially with a pattern, and most of all patterned beige vinyl floors.

And I hate “wood”** in bathrooms – most of all wooden toilet seats, but a “wood” vanity is still high on the list.

bath-beforethebefore

But the environmentalist (and cheapskate) in me hated to re-do a bathroom that was just re-done in 2009.  But the floor was stained, the cabinet looked sorry, the triptych medicine cabinet was just plan asinine not to mention rusty, and the vinyl or acrylic or whatever-the-hell-it- is tub and surround were scratched up, so we had to do something.  (And a cheery rug and shower curtain in the meantime didn’t really help enough.) But after spending a more-than-expected chunk of change on the house over the last year (including more of a makeover of the half-bath than we anticipated) we decided not to do a total overhaul of it just yet.

bath-attempt

So we painted many things, and replaced a few things (except the maligned almond pieces) instead.

At first I wanted a bright, colorful, cheery room – something with challenging colors to enjoy for a limited time – something that played off the rug and shower curtain – we had some leftover aqua-green paint that seemed like it would do the trick.

Only after painting some samples, it proved it to be very wrong for the room, and the shower curtain was starting to show the end of its life anyway.

I switched directions to the grey-green of my studio and a nice not-purple, not-brown, but sometimes looks like either one, color we’ve been using on shitty hollow closet doors, and set off to the paint store.

Only something was off that day (or it was off the day I got the original cans) and I came home with mauve and grey with less green and I didn’t realize the extent of the difference until everything was painted and dried…

bath-after

I really didn’t want to paint it all over again. (Color more accurate in pic below)

My fabric stash revealed a perfect complimentary print for a curtain (which was originally going to be a shutter) and we found a cheap cotton rug of almond and mauve at the first placed we looked.

bath-rug

So now we’ve got the bathroom of a post-menopausal woman in 1987.

 But it is fine for now – in fact, I’ve come to really like it.

Eventually the sink, tub, and toilet will be a proper bright white (and the sink a pedestal instead of an ill-fitting vanity), and the floor a vintage-looking marmoleum (or possibly tile, but not likely) once we work out some technical difficulties and save up some more clams, but in the meantime I’ll fluff out my hair and do a little jazzercise as I get ready….

(I neglected to mention the details of the floor – yes, we painted the sheet vinyl – gave it a thorough cleaning, roughed it up with sandpaper, painted on BIN primer, and used two coats of Ben Moore porch paint. This color is also wrong – was supposed to be a lavenderish-brownish-decaying rose-putty color and it’s just about petal f*cking pink instead. I was going to stencil it too, but I’m lazy and don’t feel the need to impress you.)

bath-during

And a side-by-side before and after:

Bath-before bath-after

The fabric on the left was a temporary fix after I broke the cheap vinyl blind, classy, eh? That’s when a fabric stash is truly useful – and especially because the new curtain fabric is 8 or more years old, so it’s another route to savings.  We splurged on a fancier medicine cabinet though it looks just like a plain box from here, but we were very limited by size, shape, and surface-mount options. The light was a challenge to find as well due to some odd electrical placement and our desire for something vintage-looking. And yes, when you open the left door on the vanity, it bangs into the radiator.

Stupid, stupid choices, you former owners…

*Grey is now the new beige, and I’m mostly cool with that, though not all greys are great…

**In larger bathrooms or more vintage/French estate/rustic New Mexican bathrooms I’m okay with wood in the right kinds of ways, but not in a small heavily used space were splashing occurs, and never ever on a toilet…

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On getting rid of things (likely a series, so part I – print dictionaries)…

Will I need to be able to spell during the apocalypse?

Will I need a little-used sly synonym to endear myself to others before I shank them for some shoe leather?

dictionary-thesaurus

I’ve been carting around these two beasts since my high school graduation (I think that’s when I got them?) but haven’t cracked them open in at least 15 years since grad school, though it doesn’t look like I used them much then either…

I love old dictionaries – especially with tiny illustrations – but not my old dictionary, though it does have a few pictures.

dictionary-slowworm

But it doesn’t have some everyday words like internet.

(which is weird since it existed then, just among a more select few…)

I don’t care that I’m missing jeggings or glamping (hah! wordpress ain’t got ‘em either…) or terms like “hot mess,” but will I miss the actual book?

Will I miss being able to pull it off the shelf on a rainy day, opening it at random…

dictionary-alembic

…and saying, hey, I thought that thing was just called a still?

But then almost immediately forget what I just learned?

Will I lose out on a princely sum not being able to prove a Scrabble play during a power outage?

Will I miss out-dated or somewhat offensive descriptions like:

Runt – 1. an undersized animal, especially the smallest animal of the litter. 2. A person of small stature?

(Definition #2 is listed as derogatory at least in some online dictionaries now…)

dictionary-runcible

Will I miss turning to the runcible spoon and thinking about how it’s like the ancestor of the spork and remembering when we had those crappy sporks in high school that always snapped before the tastiest bit made it to your gob, and all of us cool kids called them sfoons?

Will all of my oversize documents and rugs begin to curl with abandon with nothing left to weight them down?

Will I need a boost to see over the steering wheel when my elderly bones shrink and curve into themselves?

dictionary-tongs

Maybe I just need a pair of lazy tongs to grab things to put in the charity bin to prevent me from opening/touching/examining/experiencing them again…

How about you (especially you writerly few) have you kept your dictionaries?

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Late winter burn out…

I’m just a little bit tired of winter.

Rather, I’m really just tired of the lingering dirty snow and ice and its hazards, and now, a cold snap.

Normally this time of year would have me tearing at my breast and howling with rage at the season, but I’m semi-coping – I think I hate December much more anyway…

The tired snow is showing the well-trod path of our neighborhood deer through the side yard.

deer stomp

And their antics at night in the backyard.

deer frolic

And they’re getting hungry and bold and starting to lurk about during the day as well.

deer brush pile

(We just got more snow, and then some more snow, so it’s back to looking fresh and solidly winter again.)

I’m getting antsy to be finished with organizing my crap, but it is slow going… our basement looks like a well-stocked thrift store with 95% cool stuff.

I finally found the missing box of stash yarn.

stash box found

And it had all possible variations of yarn and notions, so I had to partially undo and redo my massive organizing job of last month.  (And I may have done a little cramming, which is how the messes start in the first place).  But I found some slipper bottoms I forgot I had too, so those will be put to good use… soon?

I finally finished a pair of gift socks I’d had on the needles for months but only worked on sporadically – I can usually crank socks out at a decent pace, but these took a little longer than I expected – especially at the dash to the finish which usually goes quite speedily, but this time was more slow and steady…

giftsocks

(The color isn’t right, they should be less pink – it’s an older ball of my favorite ONline Supersocke 6-fach yarn, and a reminder that I prefer fraternal twins for socks).

And I made five Botanics (some with fold-over brims, some without) in the last couple of months – really burned out on the pattern, but it’s still an easy and good one.

botanic-the last

I sewed a few more curtains, yet five more still need to be hemmed, and four need to be replaced with something more interesting… burned out on those as well.

 And our water line froze (but we didn’t know that was the problem at the time) just before the weekend started, so we just had several days without water and went ahead with some sloppy smelly house projects – think I might need to actually burn the clothes we’ve been wearing…

 (Don’t worry carolsinspring, I mailed those socks to you when I could still bathe and after I gave them a good soak!)

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Renewal

I would like to publicly thank my shop vac.

trustyvac

(Or perhaps I should thank my parents who “loaned” it to me nearly a decade ago…)

It has faithfully sucked up all matters of crumbling house shit – even some of the actual stuff I’m sure – through two whole home renovations.

And each time, it has played in integral part in renewing old floors.

Living in a house with a new lease on life makes me want to revive other aging but still solid things.

renew-longscarf

Like this ridiculously long sock yarn scarf I made for N back in our early days.

(And yes, that is the same spot where the vac was, only with a newly built bookcase made by N to house his cookbook collection – I’m standing in the kitchen – and the color isn’t quite right, the walls are a yellowy cream.)

But back to the scarf.

I’m really loosing the concept of time these days and my brain can no longer keep track of events and markers in which to categorize life and the passing years.  But I do know if I see one of my own garter-stitch scarves, then a helluva long time has passed.  I thought I was past those by the time I deemed N knitworthy, but perhaps I just wanted to work it up as quickly as possible.

renew-scarf detail

He picked out the yarn – I remember that part.  And he said he wanted it to be long, so I delivered.

Only it grew and grew and grew…

So I’m finally going to rip it out and turn it into a baktus sort of neck thing – preserving the original intent with garter stitch, but making it much more wearable.

 Or maybe socks?

And I’m not in the clear with woodworking projects yet…

renew-heywake

We decided to immediately tackle the massive refinishing job of our new Heywood Wakefield furniture, and started with N’s desk as it was in the worst shape…

And I have to pat myself on the back again because it turned out great.

renew-heywood wakefield desk

We used the wheat stain and toned varnish from here followed with some clear poly at the end.  I was a little skeptical about using water-based stuff, but I’m now sold (at least for this furniture).  There was just a pinch of opacity in both products giving it that wood soaked in skim milk (yuck) effect, but it was nearly spot-on with the original.  And though I’m also a whiz as renewing old linoleum, I doubted I would have been able to come up with my own oil-based formula to use on these pieces.  I also used some wood bleach for the first time on the desk, and was amazed how well it worked – it took out 99% of a nasty black ring left by a plant or can of paint or something of that size.

Now we just have four more pieces to go…

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