Category Archives: Uncategorized

What I know or thought I did but still don’t

 bowbanister

I’m wrapping up the worst of the house, meaning almost all of the walls and ceilings are repaired and painted, and floors refinished painstakingly by hand.

I am an experienced fixer-upper, but I still don’t understand the darkest secrets in the universe of home improvement.

Such as:

I never could predict just how much hard wax oil I needed to use per floor, and ended up paying in shipping small cans what would have cost for the large can.

The smallest room used the most paint.

grey walls

Despite its trendiness, I like yellow and grey.  And that yellow door is the living room color – the living room is the largest room, yet took the least amount of paint…

And we still haven’t figured out which room is for what – this room will probably be N’s office, though it may be my “studio” but it is a really tight space – the other wall is pretty much the right margin of the pic – but it has the best natural light.

We did end up covering the knotty pine paneling in one of the rooms, and the room is much better for it, though it will stay in the living room for now.

green walls

And though I’ve previously held an unyielding “choose paint colors for the middle of an ungodly dreary winter” stance (meaning only warm tones on all walls) I went outside of my comfort zone and painted cooler hues in these last few rooms and I really like them.  The color of the smallest room, above with the yellow door, even has the terribly depressing name of “November rain.”  But I would prefer rain in November to some icy slop.

Every time I sand wall patches or floors, despite how well I meticulously seal up the room, I’m blown away about how much dust still escapes and ends up in rooms on the opposite side of the house.

Dusty wheel

 And I hate the fact that I now have to do a thorough furniture-moving, rug-lifting deep clean because I just did that, and everything is fresh and new but now looks like dusty hell.

What is left?

A full-bathroom re-do (more thoughts on that soon) that will either be a placeholder just-work-with-what-we-have-and-slap-several-coats-of-paint-on-everything for now, or a reexamination of the budget to see if we can contract some of the work out – it’s not a major job, but the floor is the worst part of that room and it’s a major pain in the ass.

Improving the “finished” basement that really isn’t.  It needs a floor and a new/improved ceiling* and is ripe with the shit version of paneling which we will likely paint, but again, the budget and our energy levels will play a huge role in its outcome.

It’s got some snazzy vintage fixtures though.

basement light

(And  sadly, I don’t think those are our fingerprints and dust – we haven’t touched the things…)

Improving the yard – we need a bigger garden with better deer fencing and possibly pooch fencing, and some attempts at landscaping.

And then 89, 783, 2311+ weekend projects – tiling the kitchen backsplash, painting closet doors, stripping room doors, installing some thresholds, touching up paint, touching up paint, oh, and touching up paint, building shelving, insulating random little places, hemming more curtains, etc., etc., etc…

etc., etc., etc….

curtains

(And maybe I should add ironing curtains to the list too…)

*Anyone have ideas for improving a drop ceiling on the cheap?  It’s got those large rectangular panels, so I can’t just replace them with something interesting like record sleeves… cover with fabric or textured paper?  Paint?  The current panels are stained Styrofoam and I don’t know what stained them or continues to stain them, I want to get rid of them but hate to toss them in a landfill, and the new ones are only marginally better and more than I want to spend…

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Search me

rockin'

I write this blog primarily as a record of things I do with my hands and a few notable (to me) life things.  I used to keep a written journal, but stopped over a decade ago.  I sort of keep sketchbooks and “idea” books, but only sporadically and they’re often hard to decipher.  So the blog format does in its metadata what I don’t tend to do in life – keep track of dates and things in general in an orderly fashion – and has neat writing and doesn’t require anything sticky for pictures.  So I really don’t care about having thousands hundreds tens of followers (although sponsorship and getting free shit would be nice, though I also find that annoying) and I don’t pay much attention to the statistics, however I’m finding some of the search terms people have used and (sometimes unfortunately) ended up here fascinating and/or amusing.  The bulk of them are practical – people looking up patterns, ideas for recycling fabrics, and people and places I’ve mentioned, but a few stick out.

So I will try to give you what you were really looking for, answer your questions, or encourage you to come back to clarify, in honor of my blogiversary.

Though the web has gotten so vast that you no longer need professionals and masters degrees (like mine) to make an optimal query in a search engine (and I’m also guilty of occasionally just typing in short questions) some people are taking it a bit too far:

WHAT ADJUSTMENTS DO I NEED TO MAKE A HONEYCOWL OUT OF SOCKWEIGHT YARN

Um, if you know the Honeycowl, then you probably use ravelry, so get off Google and use their awesome search features to see how others did it, fool.

And of course for the dirtier of mind, I’m sure plenty experience disappointment in landing here – some terms are just dull, others I may intentionally use just for shits and giggles, like:

COCK SOCKS

Which no, I’ll not quite give you that, but enjoy the Red Hot Chili Peppers instead.

Another searched for:

SOCK MONKEY LUDE PICS

And I’ll happily oblige, that is if you really meant “lewd”… otherwise I do not know what a  sock monkey would pop to chill out.

monkey-suck

(I was too lazy or mildly creeped out to stage this in a more sexy setting…)

monkey-reach

And one of my favorites:

DUSTY OLD THINGS

This might be the pass-phrase to my heart.  And hopefully you’ve been back recently to take in my post about the dusty old things I recently found.

And an obsession with gender-appropriateness in which I do not understand:

DOES WEARING A POLYESTER SCARF MAKE ME LOOK GAY

Yes, if it is rainbow colored (but even then you could just be a supporter of gay rights).  Otherwise you just look cheap and a supporter of petrochemicals and possibly slave labor.

MAN WEARING BAKTUS

Here’s a man in a baktus (and a lacy one to boot):

baktus2-done

And one that I searched for myself:

BAD HAT QUILT

Not sure what this could mean – a quilt made of bad/ugly hats?  Badly knitted hats?  Then that would be an afghan of sorts… Or a tiny quilt to cover a bad hat?  Or a tiny quilt to tuck in the unloved hat at night? Or by bad do you mean good?

And some mild WTFs:

SLIMY GREEN SNOT WORM

You should probably get that checked out, or if you are a child, get away from the screen and go outside to play.

BEER BOX QUILT

A quilt made from beer boxes?  Are you a hobo?

UNEMPLOYMENT PAINTINGS

Yeah, aren’t those most paintings?

HOW TO DRESS A ROOM WITH SANDED FLOOR

One sleeve (curtain) at a time, or a little oil and vinegar.

IN WHICH FINGER SHOULD JADEITE BE WORN

Whoa, are you planning to surgically bejewel yourself? 

SOCK FOOT MAN TUCK

I don’t know if this is supposed to be dirty or if it’s an inquiry about taking in now baggy socks after significant weight loss…

FLOOR SANDER TSHIRTS

Do you mean the best t-shirts to use as rags while sanding the floor?  Or the logo of sanding machine?  Or do you want to buy one?

If so, here are three from which you may choose that I made just for you!

fig,white,scoop,ffffff

fig,white,mens,ffffff2

fig,white,tank,ffffff

 

Check out my redbubble shop for more ASTITCHMATISM swag including veggie weenie totes and phone cases – not sure how long I’ll have it up, so get stuff now!

I STILL HAVE JET LAG

I’m sorry, that really sucks, but at least you got home with all fingers intact and the luxury of leisure time or a tolerant boss who hasn’t fired your slacking-off ass yet.

CHEAPER ALTERNATIVE TO HEXAGON FLOOR TILE

Hex tile (not the fancy-pants marble or 100% authentic reproduction stuff) is really some of the most affordable (and attractive) floor tile available, but it’s most cheap if you learn to install it yourself – it’s really not that difficult – you can do it!

YARN OPENESS

My yarn and I have a really special relationship, I know that my yarn can come to talk to me about absolutely anything, no matter how embarrassing or scary – the key is to set boundaries but always have a swinging gate of dialog – and maybe you’ll be proud of your yarn someday too.

ORGANIC FARM CURTAINS

I think that is evidence that we’ve lost all hope.

HOW DO YOU SPELL TCHOTZKIE

Tchotchke.

(But if you landed here, does that mean I spelled it wrong somewhere…?)

SISTER BROTHER FISTBAD WAP

And with that, I’ve got nothing (hopefully it’s not something awful).

Thanks for reading and do stick around for another year!

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In praise of N…

I’m taking most of the credit for our house fixing-upping, and since I only work work part-time at the moment, I do put in several more hours/days a week on it, but N isn’t just sitting around on his ass either (unless I am too and we’re taking a much needed break).

His work is often stealthy and surprising – like whipping up a work bench while I’m painting a room (and possibly cursing under my breath that he isn’t helping, but then I find out he he was doing something very useful and necessary).  Or taking care of some little annoying paint/patch/trim detail in the morning when he’s up at an ungodly hour and I’m still snoozing.

workbench

He’ll take out toilets and do some minor electrical tinkering – things I either really don’t want to do, or don’t feel comfortable doing.

And take care of all of the floor and ceiling trim cutting – something I’m quite capable of doing, but waste more and bitch about a lot more.

And he’s a machine when it comes to hacking out massive patches of invasive species – at the last house it was bamboo, this one is Japanese Knotweed (of which we still haven’t quite gained the upper hand).

And please, anyone who is reading – never plant bamboo and Japanese Knotweed!!!!!

And the part I find most crucial on a daily basis is that he’s the cook (again, I am capable of doing so, but I could exist most nights on scrambled eggs and some greens, or pasta-all-the-time) so he keeps it interesting and delicious (I do supply the occasional enormous pot of chili or spontaneous vegetarian concoction).

sagefritters

(sage fritters with an anchovy surprise inside)

But the most kudos go to his willingness and ability to haul my shit.  When we first got together, I was bemoaning the fact that I lived in such a small apartment crowded with too many things, and instead of telling me I should purge, he said I just needed a bigger place… though it was possibly one of the most destructively enabling statements anyone has ever tossed at me, I loved it and it was endearing and actually inspired me to get things in better order to some degree, but after three hurried moves in the last few years, things have gotten out of control again.

Our albatross has been a storage locker 5 1/2 hours away that we thought we’d only have for a few months… It turned out to be two years and a few months.

storage empty

But now it is finally empty and no longer ours!

stored sewing machines

And I found a couple more sewing machines that I thought I had

NtheHulk

And N was a total beast hauling it all out of the locker, into the truck, out of the truck, and into the house.

Don’t be fooled by the ugly 1980s cover on that chair – it has to weigh close to 200 pounds, is nearly large enough for two, and is from c. 1940 when furniture was made to last out of iron and oak.  I’ll be sewing a new cover for it eventually.

truck full

And it is a little shocking to see how much stuff* we lived perfectly fine without for two and some years…

And yes, that’s a box of rocks on the bottom…

I promise those won’t be around when and if there’s another move.

(Or else I’ll hide them better).

*In my/our defense, we had two separate households for a few years and needed double the stuff.

[edited to correct some typos]

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Bye bye blackbird…

The other morning I awoke to too much silence from a slight stealth snowfall and then suddenly a mad chorus of swallowed trills and flapping from a cloud of Red-Winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles honing in on the neighbor’s freshly topped-off birdseed.

I wouldn’t call myself a passionate birder – if given the choice, I’d rather hold a chicken than spy on some tiny flitty thing through distorted glass after hiking ten miles – which would put me in the bird-in-the-hand camp. Though I do make exceptions to trek to experience Tundra Swans, and I used to cater my commute to the streets where turkeys roamed in my old city.  But I keep an old pair of binoculars (a gift for my ninth birthday, I think) at my desk to check out the birds outside my window (and spy on delinquent teenagers doing illegal things in the parking lot).

birdinthewild

(a real birder would have a decent zoom lens too…)

On this particular chilly morning, I was thrilled at the Blackbird takeover and glad to see that the resident Morning Doves, Crows, and Bluejays, not to mention a healthy family of squirrels, were sharing alike and everyone was getting their full.  Until one of the other resident beasts, a tuxedo cat, picked out a weak or unsuspecting feathery friend and drug it off and under a car for slaughter.  Then it came back for more.

birdslaughter

Rear Window redux with feline crime.

Nature is nature, and I’m cool with that.  A lion should absolutely kill a little gazelle, a bear should whack a fish from the stream, and seagulls eating the bird of peace are normal.  But I do not tolerate cat owners (or caretakers, or whatever they prefer) who let their well-fed animals out unsupervised and unconstrained.  The same goes for dogs left to freely roam in the country and kill the neighbor’s furry 4-H projects.  I don’t want a beast in my garden giving me Toxoplasmosis, fighting with my own beasts and potentially spreading disease, or unnecessarily killing off the wildlife.  That’s what cat toys are for.

So this has nothing to do with fiber, and yet a partially true stereotype exists of knitters being “cat people.”  And cat people are often “bird people,” but some cat people don’t realize or don’t care that their slinky four-legged friends are up to no good outdoors and unfenced.

Blackbirds of course, always remind me of this song:

And I know it’s about a prostitute returning home with her tail between her legs, but oddly our elementary school music class would have to sing it over and over again, and even performed it in a school pageant.  Our music teacher was also a stereotype – rail thin with a severely dyed-black bob, and penciled-in arched eyebrows – from a different era, out of place in a redneck backassward town, and certainly playing out her sorrows and remembering all of her leavings every night with a tall glass of gin and a fat cat on her lap.  It was the first song that filled me full of immense woe and I hated it at the time – I hated the thought of ever leaving anything, and the Blackbird was always the Red-Winged variety that lived in the pond behind our house.  Singing it brought tears to my eyes then, so I just mouthed the words, but I usually faked singing most everything then (and now)…

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Child stitchery (not in a sweatshop)…

On a trip to visit my folks (I won’t say home because they tragically (for me) sold it some years ago) earlier this summer, I finally found this little fabric picture that used to hang in my bedroom.

Birdscene

The scene is one I drew, and drew quite often as a slightly obsessive little sh*t, and at the dumbsh*t age when I didn’t comprehend that the sky wasn’t just up there and therefore depicted it as a stripe.  So let’s say I was four, or should four-year-olds understand how the sky works?  So maybe I’ll say three…  Regardless, my mother deemed my “Bird In Flight to Nest” precious and decided to turn it into a sewing lesson.  I’ll say that it was my first, but I really don’t know.  She cut out the pieces, sewed the margins on the machine, and gave it to me to applique.  I do clearly remember getting somewhat bored or frustrated with it, and it is also quite clear that she finished it for me and then added a few embroidered embellishments.  I don’t know if this took place in the span of a day or I abandoned it for some time and she got tired of having it only partially completed for weeks or months.  I also don’t remember if it was during the one truly massive blizzard of my youth (though I think I was down with the chicken pox then) or in the leisurely long days before I had to go to school.  Either way, it was something I did as a child wherein my hands and mind were engaged (and it wasn’t so traumatic that I didn’t want to do it again).

Birdscene-det

This was before the recent cringe-worthy days of fashionable “upcycling.” Smack in the 1970s when fuel crises, a renewal of the back to the earth movement, thoughts of Silent Spring, and the birth of Earth Day were kicking around.  My parents left their urban home to escape air pollution, overcrowding, and to grow wholesome organic food on a few idyllic acres.  We were also broke-ass poor, so recycling old clothes into craft projects was both a necessity and entirely practical – how many thousands of years have we just used what we have and then used it some more?  Why should this now be a trendy buzzword to help sell our crafty stuff?  Convince the buyer that her materialism is ok because it’s upcycled and therefore she is a conscientious fabulous person?

Fabric is fabric is fabric… and is infinitely re-usable.  Sometimes the perfect print is on a bolt, sometimes it’s a pair of pants… you’re not special for using or buying either one.

But back to the picture.

The components are:

Sun:  I assumed the terrycloth sun was salvaged from a much abused towel, but my mom said it was leftover fabric from some shorts she made for my brothers as small children in the 1960s… I’m not sure I’d like terrycloth shorts… they seem so, absorbent?

Tree trunk:  Yep, that’s my dad’s old tie – gotta love plaid neck wear…

Sky:  Leftovers from a quilt my mother made for me of yellow, green, and blue gingham to match my wallpaper of the same colors (only the wallpaper also had puke tones in it too).

Flowers, eggs, bird parts:  Felt scraps – who didn’t have random felt scraps lying around?

Nest:  Burlap feed sack – we lived on a little farm with little animals and a pony.  Food for them came in burlap bags.

Bird:  This is an odd denim/oxford cloth hybrid that was probably clothing in its former life.

Grass, leaves:  We can’t remember what these scraps are from, but I wore various homemade calico skirts, shorts, halter tops (remember, 1970s over here) and dresses.

Background:  This could have been leftover paining canvas or material for rustic curtains.

And even though this turned into a rage against the preciousness of upcycling, it was originally meant to be a rage against not teaching children how to sew or make bread or brush animals or do anything constructive with their hands.  Yeah, there are a few schools that teach such things, but as a whole we’re becoming such boring dumb-asses with our iSh*t.

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