Tag Archives: basements

The sewing station south

Hot, humid weekend days sent us to ReStore again over the last month and some. Wintertime usually means thrifting time, but when it’s too hot to hike or work in the yard, it is the second best option to staying cooped up in the house.

I don’t like spending much time in our basement during the day, but I was drawn to it regularly this summer – seeing bright daylight day after day became inexplicably depressing to some degree for me – I yearned for a rainy grey day (then we got a bunch and they nearly killed the garden). But I finally took N’s advice and set up a work area down there despite my earlier protests that I hated being down there in the day and needed bigger windows to work.

On our first summertime run, we encountered a motherlode of old school furniture – desks, tables, horrid attached chair-table hybrids that brought back lunchroom nightmares, and some awesome lime green lockers that almost came home with us, but didn’t because we’d have to rent a larger vehicle.

But this little desk did.

I thought it would be perfect for my not-used-enough serger.

And it is – the serger was previously on a nightstand or side table of sorts and I had to sit at it uncomfortably side-saddle. Moving it out of my tiny upstairs workroom freed up some much needed space too and hopefully by wintertime I’ll actually be able to go up there and work rather than spend most of my time organizing and re-organizing it or shifting the piles that covered one rare surface or another… And then pop down to the basement to use the serger when need be. (I’ll also be able to iron fabric more comfortably in the space, and I have my other machines that need work down there, so perhaps it will be the main work area and upstairs will be more for spinning, stash, and whatever else “art” I might get up to).

There was another table that I wanted very badly – a not too wide, but wide enough for quilting cotton, and gloriously long – 8 feet or so, mid century table with a coral formica top – possibly from a lunchroom too, or perhaps an art classroom… It was cheap (I don’t remember how cheap, but at or under $50) but again, we’d need a truck of sorts to get it home (not to mention we didn’t really have room for it – yes, it could go in the basement, but then the basement would have a giant table in it and we already have one largeish library table down there anyway).

So I forgot about it.

But then it was still there about a month later and only $10!!!!

But I still didn’t get it, but took a picture instead. Someone will be lucky and happy with that thing.

(I’m still having connectivity issues – apparently my phone line is hooked into a buried line at a cookie-cutter condo complex down the road – I like the aesthetics of buried lines, but when I’ve lived with them, they’ve had way too many problems…)

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String me up…

Gift knitting is wrapping up, work has been extra workful, I’m making a point of spinning for a little bit often to strengthen my wrist, and I feel like I’m not making enough progress in anything even though many things are finally getting my attention…

The mild winter had me fooled that I would be puttering about the yard now thinking about landscaping, digging some new beds, and playing with some of the great rocks we’ve unearthed around the property. But frigid temps, frozen ground, massive mud pits, and all around unpleasantness except for some brilliantly sunny days have kept me indoors and driven me partially underground to the basement.

Two more pieces of our Heywood Wakefield set are now refinished. Two more to go – the biggest and heaviest – two dressers – but those might have to wait until better weather so we can work on them outside, or at least with the windows wide open.

basement-refinishing heywake

And I’ve got these boxes and tubs still to unpack, redistribute (though there’s really no more room elsewhere), be rid of, or re-packed more efficiently and stored in a location I’ve yet to find or create. In our last house, the basement consisted of two rooms of piled boxes and tubs from hasty moves, art school crap, parental home downsizings, and childhood nostalgic detritus. We weren’t there long enough to deal with them, and now, though other things need to be done, I’m feeling done with them and have finally begun to tackle the heap.*

basement-unpacking

They’re full of art supplies, real photography supplies, rocks, shells, vintage tablecloths, a couple of washed fleeces, vintage dishes, paper making supplies, a few duplicate kitchen supplies, that blasted punch bowl, old rusty crap, sewing tools and notions, things from childhood, pots and plates I threw but don’t use but can’t get rid of, and a few more boxes of books outside the frame that I am able to cull without too much pain, as well as some giant photographs and paintings I just can’t figure out…

But with every one, surprises lurk inside.

basement-spools

In a tub that also contains chopsticks, drink stirrers, hanging hardware for picture frames I no longer have (or maybe re-stored in my folk’s basement?), clock parts for the clocks I used to make and sell, pez dispensers (why do I have so many fucking pez dispensers?), detached butterfly wings plucked from car grills, a series of vintage plastic robots, dried up tins of adhesives, glass bead making tools (some of them, others I gave away), the screwdrivers I’ve been looking for for two home renovations and was convinced I left in the old house, another staple gun (I think that makes 4 in our house now), tea balls, plaster tape for casts or sculpture, and finally a cigar box of old thread and trimmings from an estate sale, and a shoe box full of little spools of tatting thread from my once beloved thrift store.

basement-tatting

The contents of the tub indicate it was thrown together in 2008 – kitchen materials mixed with tools and craft supplies – place it in my old apartment’s kitchen/dining room/hall closet area, an s-curve shaped space of quirky lets-carve-an-apartment-out-of-this-grand-old-home because it’s the depression and we got killed in the market architecture. Perhaps I dug around in it once since then, but mostly it stayed in our old basement, then the storage unit for a few years. I knew I had some collections of old spools of thread, but I thought I had them all with me already – I had no memory of having this much more. And the tatting stuff? Completely forgot, though now I remember I wanted to frame some of them…

basement-thread

I’m on the fence a bit about using vintage supplies – on the one hand, they are supplies, meant to be used and used up, and I have no qualms about using a few inches of thread here and there to to make repairs on like-colored clothing or for a pop of color on a button or something, but on the other, they’ve become artifacts. But in the case of the tatting thread, it’s an all-out stash in itself or hoard… I don’t plan on tatting or crochet, at least at these fiddly gauges and I don’t do much embroidery, so I do need to purge it – sell it, likely and not think about if someone uses it all up on their own ghastly craft project, or squirrels it away again, or actually makes something beautiful or appreciates them as artifacts as well…

basement-tape

And then I found my stash of deconstructed VHS tape that I meant to make into an “art” piece, but I can’t stand to touch the stuff, and I’ve yet to don a pair of gloves and see if I can handle it that way… and I’ve forgotten about it, so why the hell didn’t I chuck it yet?

*So this was a bit of a pre-written post – I’m back to ignoring the emotionally overwhelming contents of our semi-subterranean floor…

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Is this lump outta my head? I think so.

I have an old cheap sofa that I’ve held onto longer than I probably should have because it’s so damn comfortable.

I bought it about a decade ago off an old apartment neighbor who got it as a gift from her boyfriend who later dumped her and she decided to move far away. It was a bit of a shame though, I hadn’t spoken to her except for neighborly pleasantries until that point, and only when she was moving did I realize she might have made for a good friend.

But her sofa, ugly as it may be, has been quite the comforting companion.

It was too big for my old tiny living room and one had to awkwardly maneuver around it when entering through the front door. But it made for decent sleeping accommodations when need be, and I had the perfect knitting nest in one corner.

I believe a good sofa must be deep and wide.

It is red, and I never much liked red, except for a bit in kitchens, and N never liked that it was faded red – it’s meant to be of the casual canvas aesthetic sort of thing, completed with cotton rag rugs and denim pillows, likely.

Unfortunately, just when I had the cash to buy a new, better colored cover, the big Swedish store discontinued the sofa and all its covers.

Somewhere along the line, I bought some fabric to make a new slipcover, but it wasn’t quite enough – so I bought some more, which still wasn’t quite enough either, but complemented the other, so I thought I would make it two toned, but then I never made it. (The fabric is still waiting to become something though – probably a slipcover for a chair instead.)

In our first house, it stayed propped on its end and shoved into the corner of the basement for a year or two until N took a job long distance and it once again reigned over a living room – a proper sized one, finally.

But then it spent nearly a couple of years in storage – I thought we’d need to trash it after it essentially stayed in a garage for so long, and who wants a sofa that’s been in a garage (especially one infested with stink bugs)?

But it came out fine.

Except the lumbar pillows.

lump-pillows

They were always a bit too lumpy – I think my neighbor had washed and dried them too often or too aggressively – I’d rather not speculate why, but the rest of the sofa is stain-free, so I’m not too worried. But the lumps made the pillows flaccid and ineffective, so I decided it was time for a revival.

lump-lumps

Should I be ashamed to admit I still kept the lumps? They’ll be good in a future dog bed, right?

I really hate to put anything in landfills.

And I wasn’t keen on stuffing it with plastics again, but wadded-up old clothes weren’t comfortable, leaves or straw too crunchy and a bit too earthy, and wool is too dear, so I got some more of the synthetic fluffy stuff.

lump-stick

It came with a free “tool.” Now I like free shit as much as the next guy, but for chrissakes, it’s just a chopstick – a single chopstick in a paper sleeve just like what chopsticks come in – did a chopstick factory accidentally package only singles and the stuffing company get a bargain?

Not to mention I already had a few random chopsticks kicking around in my sewing box along with a pencil or two with the lead broken off for the same purpose… A stuffing “tool” is probably the one thing people don’t really need…?

lump-during

So I crammed the pillows to their fill and made them a bit lumpy in a fluffy way, but that didn’t really matter. I like some poly fill brands over others but I buy it so infrequently that I forget which I like and I’m not certain this was the one…

But now our lumbar regions are properly supported once again when lounging in the basement – the perfect place for a less than perfect but still very comfortable sofa.

lump-after

A bit ago I ordered a pound of yellow dye to revive an old rag rug and turn this sofa cover orange – I figured the best options for overdying it were brown (but we already have a brown sofa upstairs), purple (meh, purple), deeper red, black, or orange – but I didn’t want to worry about potentially staining our clothes if I didn’t wash a dark dye out well enough, so I figured the yellow was the best option and I wanted a yellow rug anyway. But now I’m not so sure – the red sofa actually matches a rug for once and it is the basement, so a bit of a mishmash is warranted…

But I do like orange much more than red…

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What time is it anyway…?

Things have been a bit hinky lately – perhaps it’s an annual thing, or perhaps it’s because the season is just beginning to change, or perhaps it’s all just an illusion…

My entirely ugly, but much relied upon atomic clock began reading 6:91…

hinky-clock

It took me more than a minute to realize that that wasn’t possible, a few days to remember that it wasn’t possible several more times, and then another week to clean out the gunk from a corroded battery… It still hasn’t readjusted to reality – maybe I’m the one who needs to readjust?

Our garden yielded only one mutant vegetable – which is proof positive of the organic veg we consumed from the bitchy CSA from the last two years was in fact contaminated from the megabiopharma mere yards away.

hinky-tomato

The half basement wall went from yellow to orange then back to yellow again… I couldn’t get over the orange and teal looking too much like a southern NFL team with a sea creature mascot. N doesn’t understand why I even know the colors of teams when I despise the whole franchise, and I can’t understand it either – further proof of its evilness for invading my ignoring brain. (And let’s just ignore the fact that it’s now close to the yellow and green of a northern team with a mascot that does something with meat or boxes…)

hinky-basement

But whatever, I am really done with painting for quite some time. And as much as my vocal cords are shorn from screaming “one coat of paint is never enough,” this time it had to be – in fact, it’s more like 3/4 of a coat with another 1/4 over the the thinnest spots – going out to buy even more paint wasn’t an option. But I primed the orange very very well, so it is good enough for a basement. And this time we were mildly ill from the fumes for a few days from the floor – I’ve been so smitten with the no-VOC paint we’ve been getting for the walls, that I forgot the low-VOC stink – nothing like the brain melting paint of just a few decades ago, but it has an odor when the other stuff really doesn’t… But now we can officially unpack every last thing…

hinky-closet

But getting organized isn’t always the answer. Most of my fabric stash is now neatly boxed and well-labeled and shoved into a long knee wall closet – and I can’t find a damn thing, or it’s a pain in the ass to move things away to get to the thing I need… But one of my siblings sent some neat inflatable led lights that have come in very handy in the space, though they’re meant for the great outdoors.

A garden fence ornament ended up as a pile of pieces on the ground for no discernible reason.

hinky-sun

Its hanging wire was intact – if this were the country or the city, I’d think someone shot it down, but instead, maybe a squirrel got strong and angry?

My favorite sock yarn tested my love for it…

hinky-plastic

There’s this bloated and horrid plastic filament intertwined through a good portion of it so far – it’s not the occasional rustic bit of guard hair, or people hair… probably a larger clump of the bit of nylon added for strength like a pasta clump? If so, this nylon feels like all kinds of petrochemical nastiness… which is what nylon really is, right? I’m conflicted – I like sock yarn with a bit of it in for strength, and I’ve not yet had to darn any of my socks made of superwash and a bit ‘o nylon. But I’m all preachy against plastics escaping into the environment, and I can’t stand synthetics against my skin. In theory I prefer to wear socks without the nylon too – in certain temperatures I swear I can feel the sickly unbreathability of 10% – 25%  nylon in my socks. Mohair is called “nature’s nylon” but I’ve yet to see a superwash mohair blend, or one I’d like to wear perhaps, and socks made with just wool seem to precious, and I don’t knit or wear precious socks. But perhaps thicker yarn knit up at the tiniest possible gauge could be fine…?

One of my credit cards was hacked a few months ago, and now another, and finally my debit card in the same week has been as well – from internal breaches – nothing to do with my online purchases (or entire lack thereof of late). I think I caught and updated all of my automatic payments (and again) but the uneasiness hasn’t subsided that a late bill might be headed my way. Perhaps I’ll just start burying my nickles under the bushes – bushes that still need to be cut back…

And my work work future is up for grabs again – a cyclical chaos I’d been adapting to for the last three years, and as of a few months ago, I though I had a less chaotic three years ahead, but silly me, life isn’t so kind… So I’m spinning my wheels again, but not making yarn or going any distance.

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Cellar dweller…

Our “finished” basement needed to be finished some more.

The only redeeming quality was that half of its lights are groovy. But the ceiling was styrofoam, the floor is skim coated with cement covering up god knows what, and I have no tolerance for thin, cheap, and dark paneling.

basement light

Painting the paneling was a no-brainer. I made a brief attempt at whitewash, but it looked terrible. And I wasn’t about to take the time and energy again to fill in the groves to mimic drywall, and doing new drywall would have been more effort, expense, and bad for the environment since the only place for paneling is a landfill, or a fire.

basement-good light

So a thick coat of primer and a couple of coats of pale green-grey paint later, it is fine – for a basement. I went with the same color scheme as my tiny studio (and it’s also the same green-grey as the temporary bathroom fix) because I like it and there was leftover paint. One wall only has half paneling/wainscot and another has built-ins, so those started to become yellow along with a couple of doors.

But it didn’t work for me, despite the fact that one wall was perfectly painted – the yellow was oddly too cool.

basement-yellow&orange

So I went out and bought more of the same orange that we’ve been using on all of the outside doors  and painted some sample strokes over the yellow.

But apparently, I forgot that I had added white or some other lighter colors to the original inferno orange…

So  a mixin’ I went…

In went a pint of a bad yellow, a near-full pint of a pale lavender, a spoonful of the green-grey, and the dregs of some bright white used on the trim in the kitchen….

basement-orange

And thankfully, it worked – at least in the way I wanted it to – a warm, bold color familiar with copper.

But the color scheme is a bit on the odd side – the green-grey looks white, so it’s a bit like a fuzzy freezer burned creamsicle, but it’s the basement, right?

I’m not crazy about the other half of our light fixtures – not sure what the original owners were thinking mixing mod with colonial revival, but at least both are copper.

And don’t get me started on the agony of figuring out what to do with the drop ceiling and the defeat of just buying new panels, albeit, smooth ones… and ones, I might add that were woefully damaged and without any attempt at quality control. I’m looking at you, Armstrong. But thank you N, for dealing with making all of the cuts thanks to the dumbass original owners who didn’t lay it out in the direction that would have minimized cuts…

The floor will soon be painted a dark tealy-green and then we’ll finally set up N’s library, my favorite old oak library table, some of my found objects on the built-in shelves, all of the artwork that didn’t make the cut for the walls seen daily upstairs, a lounge area for hot summer evenings, a corner for my stationary bike, and then there’s still plenty of room for a floor loom…

(I don’t have a floor loom.)

(And maybe a pinball machine for N.)

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