Tag Archives: painting

Weeding and wheeling

Oh, it’s past mid-summer, or is this mid-summer now…?

My old computer finally shat the bed, the new one took nearly a month to arrive, I’m still struggling with transferring files and software and the like, we were on vacation, the garden and yard are nuts, I finally finished a few little house things, and less screen time has been good.

Those great big balls of llama (maybe alpaca?) I flashed last fall are now yarn.

I was aiming for a rustic spin, intentionally a bit thick and thin, but overall bulky weight – I was aware that I began spinning thinner and thinner, and the more aware that I was about doing it, the more I thought I was intentionally bulking back up…

But in the end, the last few skeins were more sport to worsted…

But it doesn’t matter – I plan to knit a throw blanket and will alternate the skeins to even out the weights a bit. There’s a bit under 2,000 yards and I had planned to be able to knit on US 11 or so needles, but my “bulky” spins often work best on 9s, so we’ll see – hopefully it’s enough yarn to make something the length of toes to tits and wide enough to tuck the sides underneath for encapsulation. I love the warmth and squishiness of garter stitch like this blanket (that is slightly too narrow at times and I flirt with the idea of adding another stripe lengthwise, but instead I’ll just knit a whole new blanket or more…) but I’ll get more size out of stockinette, so I’m pretty sure I’ll just do up something ultra easy and in the round like this baby blanket again. Though I’m still tempted to add in some waves or do a modular block thing, but the clock is ticking, and I’ll need to knit this outside because it’s full of veg still – and the blanket itself will be for sunny winter day porch lounging… at least that’s the plan.

It’s been hot as balls and humid as a piehole, so my spinning has ceased for the moment – I’m down to a reasonable amount of fiber too (except for that shorn-too-short alpaca) so I want to be a bit more organized for my next spins – I’ve already grouped a few things together, but I’d like to revisit what I thought would be sweater vs. scarf/shawl amounts since I don’t seem to be finishing a single sweater…

My knitting mojo has just been off – part of that is from garden weary and damaged hands and the joint/tendon pain and swelling I seem to get every time it’s hot and humid now, and part is I want to finish some things before moving on, but I just need to put in a lot more hours of knitting and several thousands stitches to finish…

But part of that is I really just want to knit some socks – so I started another pair. It’s my last ball of my preferred yarn – everything else in the stash is too thin, so I’ll knit that stuff up doubled or maybe one day suck it up and knit it on US 0s, and I really don’t need socks (maybe they’ll end up being a gift?) but fuck it, if that’s what I want to knit to keep my fingers happy, so be it.

(Incidentally I got an email that this yarn was on sale again, but by the time I went to get it, it was all sold out, so I still haven’t bought any yarn for I don’t know how long…?) Well, that isn’t quite true, I’ve thrifted a little bit lately, but that doesn’t count.

The garden is a demanding, but tasty bitch. I need to jot up notes for next year, but the nutshell is Squash Vine Borer is hitting now, but we’ve already had a decent crop of zukes – I’m going to attempt some surgery and bury the vines today, but frankly, I’ve had my fill of the stuff for the year, though N hasn’t. The high humidity and frequent splashy rains brought in the blights the last week or so, but we’ve gotten about 50 pounds of tomatoes so far, and there’s another round ready by week’s end, so I hope I can keep things going, but at the least, we’ve got a decent amount to finish putting up. Three batches of jalapeno salsa and one of crushed toms was canned yesterday. The jalapeno plants were all started from seed, looked like utter shit for several weeks after I put them out and they were devoured by slugs? but then perhaps they were all the stronger for it and grew into these gorgeous, lusty plants. And the blueberries are coming in very well (the blackberries are very sour though, and the gooseberry was less productive this year).

And the closets are all finally done – hot, cramped, messy work I put off for a bit – all needed to be primed and primed and primed, caulked, trimmed out, some needed some shelves, and all needed many coats of paint.

Large projects that need to eventually be addressed are: installing central air, taking down trees, fixing/removing retaining wall, fencing, removing and re-installing attic insulation, some tweaks to the well equipment/set-up, and some other things I’m blanking on at the moment…

Small projects include: repair and painting around doors, scrubbing the siding; patching (painting?) some stucco, replacing some interior doors (maybe, if we can find vintage matches), improving the area underneath the deck, replacing the storm doors, of course more and more landscaping, and more things I’m blanking on…

And a medium project – sometimes large and overwhelming, sometimes a small, chip away at deal, is continuing to purge my shit. I have yet to come to any conclusions or at least stalemates on my art/crafting/collecting issues, but I’m slowing letting go of things, as well as still selling some of my vintage shit. I’ve a collection of old photos I might start to cull for cash, but it’s the only collection that fits neatly inside of a few small boxes, so it doesn’t much count…

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In the closet

Home improvement continues around these parts…

I called in a contractor for shits to price out the bathroom reno I’ve been having trouble with, and of course he charged in with the rallying cries of:

Gut it!

Take it down to the studs!

And I get that when a place really needs to be insulated and the plumbing and wiring needs to be replaced – to a degree – but for a very simple remodel? I shudder to think what would unnecessarily be going into the landfill, and all of the older, better built things replaced with newer crappier things. But we’ll see when the quote comes in – I am willing to pay a bit more for the convenience of showering within a day or two rather than a week – and we know our limits with some plumbing re-installation, so we’ll need at least some professional help, but without seeing the quote yet, but knowing it’s going to be at least 3 times what I budgeted, I’m gearing up for another DIY job with the help of our friendly (but not cheap) plumber instead of a crew… But we’ll see.

During this process, I went to the bathroom store the contractor uses to price out the fixtures. We’re in a weird area of big wealth, muddy farmers (some wealthy too), and semi-scrappy “artists” and ageing hippies (again, either wealthy or hand-to-mouth). In our little town at the fancier hardware store and green building center, everyone is friendly and doesn’t make assumptions based on how you look on your budget – sometimes I want the fancier, better quality higher-priced things, sometimes I want the budget line, but I want to talk about both to see which is the best option. But the bathroom store was out in the vast mcmansion acres and the salesperson pegged me as a penniless shack-dweller and rushed me through to get to the next (bejeweled) customer. This sets my teeth to grind – I want to support the local businesses and I’m willing to pay a bit more for them, but when I can get the same toilet/tub/sink/faucets at the big (blue, not orange) box for a bit less and without attitude it’s hard… but one shit salesperson isn’t the whole business, so I’m thinking too much about it.

But we’re still a few weeks out on that project.

In the meantime, I finished the wood of N’s cubby for the “cloakroom.”

closet-cloakroom

This coat closet added an endearing element to the house during our search – too many of these mid-century cape cods that we saw around here lacked any interesting nooks and crannies apart from the ubiquitous knee wall closets, but this place has a few more closets and turns than the others. Some days I’m tempted to put a little desk in there ala a  windowless cramped dickensonian accounting office or something, and occasionally the dog wanders in to consider making it his den.

It still has evidence of the original children that I didn’t have the heart to paint over.

closet-kid-graffiti

(But I did get rid of the original lime green also seen here.)

And then there are the bedroom closets that aren’t so great. One is large and was built-out with shit paneling in the ’70s or so that I painstakingly spruced up (still need a better solution for the sliding doors, but at least they’re painted nicely now) that N uses. Another is a small, but not-too-tiny size, but with a fairly narrow door that makes reaching for anything not in the middle absolutely annoying, especially before dawn. This one is mine. It is lined in thin dark plywood that should have been some sort of wallboard but wasn’t, and I should have installed some but didn’t, so I thought painting it was the best other option – a lighter color could help me see in there a bit better and the acidic wood needed to be sealed to protect my clothes.

closet-early-during

But I should have used the shellac-based primer, but I didn’t want to get gassed out, but instead got slowly gassed out by three coats of the regular stuff… And I went against my always-should-be-followed advice against cheap paint – it’s like trying to coat the walls with skim milk even after all the primer. But I wasn’t satisfied with a fresh coat of paint and the seams caulked up – the floor was still gappy in a few places at the bottom edges and the plywood didn’t reach all the way down, or evenly.

closet-trim

So I added some trim – a bit of over finishing for a closet perhaps, but it’s something I feel oddly strongly about – if something looks sloppy, then it brings down the place – it shows thoughtlessness, carelessness, and makes you wonder what other hidden things are wrong like a fancy meal made with factory farm meat…

And I’d also like to pause here for some unashamed bragging – the closet floors still have the original finish on the oak , and I managed to match it perfectly – seen in the doorway and to the left. (That BFA paid off, right?) The hard wax oil I used has been holding up well and I would use it again, but I just touched up several areas of scratches after two or so years – mostly from felt furniture pads capturing a piece of grit, and a few from the dog, but his claws seem to slightly dent it more with the finish intact rather than scratching the finish off.

closet-floor

And now I’m waiting for paint to dry so I can put on a second, maybe third coat, let it cure, and then put it all back together (and maybe have the electrician put in a light if they’ve got a bit of time left after their next job here.)

closet-almost-after

So instead of a project that should have been done and dusted in a day and a half, it will have taken nearly all of a four day weekend and some time off of my lung lifetime.

And there’s another just like it in my workroom that is next, along with trim for the pantry, and hall (kitchen equipment) closet, and linen closet, and maybe the office, but I’d have to move the filing cabinets out first to check…

(And that big Heywood Wakefield double dresser peeking in from the left still needs to be refinished as well, but it is so impossibly heavy and it would be stupid to sand and refinish it in place, right?…)

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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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Knot or not?

I’m adamant for leaving some original details in a home, but I’m having a terrible time deciding whether to keep our knotty pine paneling or paint over it.

knotty pine paneling

This is one of the few times I wished the previous owner painted over something so I could just throw up my arms and say oh well, stripping it would be a nightmare and involve chemicals, so I’ll just paint over it too.

And in theory, I could paint it knowing that it would be possible to restore it later by stripping it, but who would?

I could also preserve it by drywalling over it, but that would involve either renting a truck or having the drywall delivered, and that would cost more than a gallon of paint and primer (and I know, maybe two gallons of primer, the really heavy-duty kind).

knotty pine

I really hate early American decor, country style, rustic/primitive/PA Dutch stuff, and I’m not a fan of the cabin look unless I’m in a cabin.  Since we’re in a place with lots of trees and birds, it does often feel that we’re in a cabin, but then when we go to cabins it would feel like we didn’t leave home, and I want to feel like I’m in a cabin when I’m actually in a cabin, and when I’m home I like light open spaces.

We’ve also got some cheap 1970s fake wood paneling that I’m miserably attempting to fill in with spackle (more on that later) and have no regret “ruining,” but the pine is giving me pause…

knotty pine paneling & paint

It also begs for questionable colors in the pea soup and snot families…

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A sink hole…

We’re at that point in the house work where we’re finally seeing progress and remarkable change, but feeling utterly exhausted and in all kinds of pain.

I miss knitting a little in the evenings, but I just can’t do anything remotely detail-oriented or delicate with my hands at the moment.

plaster hand

And despite a daily shower, I still carry with me some of the wall colors.

paint arm

But the painful parts are often unexpected and are the main factor to curtail any leisurely handiwork.

ikea bruise

Our weeks-long back ordered kitchen sink finally arrived and we installed it immediately (and oh so securely) only to find it was defective.  The drain hole was more oval than round.  We called the big blue and yellow Swedish store and complained.  They said they were already made aware that a batch of them were defective and the new ones (also back ordered) likely would be as well.

I’m tired of doing dishes in the bathroom sink.  I got through the first day or two pretending to live in a seedy flophouse full of beat-down musicians and washed-up artists, then felt thanks that my ancestors were the tenement dwellers and not me (not yet).

ikea sink hole

So I tore that Domsjo a new one.

ikea oval sink hole

 After more than an hour of aggressive filing, and several bruises later, the hole became round enough.

(In the end, we still had to call a plumber to hook it up, thanks to the previous owner’s pipe-y hacks.)

I’m thinking how I’d like to put the previous owner and a certain blue and yellow big store in a sink hole right about now…

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A masterpiece on which to tread

I’m no artistic genius either.

I went to art school and thought I’d become a famous painter and lead a fascinating jet-setting life.

One problem though…

I was a lousy painter.

Things would start off okay, then I’d over-work the canvas, then I’d try to fix it, then it was a total mess.

By my second semester, I’d wisely switched to another medium.

My parents even took down my paintings over a decade and a half ago – a few years with them was enough of a struggle.

But I’ve still got a painter’s cockiness and swagger.  I think that because I understand color and texture and shape and design, I can conquer any visual task – even a painterly one.

This is the only instance I have of over-confidence.

I’m also cheap.

And I like old sh*t.

So when I saw what was under our unfortunately rather new, but horrid, fake wood floating floor in the kitchen, I exploded in glee to see the original Armstrong linoleum floor in “Tuscany Tan” spatter pattern, c. 1954.

house-linoleum

Then I pulled up more to find a hole the size of a Spaniel in a very conspicuous area, so I called a flooring guy to write up a quote for new linoleum.*

The cost for the new stuff nearly made me come in contact with said floor, but we could make it work by buying the cheaper versions of some other things in which we intended to splurge.

linoleum restoration-2

We pulled up the rest of the floor last weekend…  and the rest of it was good!

A few hours later found me in the craft store buying oil paints.

(I can’t find my 20-year-old mostly unused paints at the moment – maybe I gave them away?)

linoleum restoration-3

I filled the hole with wood filler, sanded it, and started to make my trompe l’oeil masterpiece.

Only it was really, really off.

linoleum restoration-4

Naples yellow hue is really just beige, and my green needed to be mixed with some blue, so I went back to the store for a couple more tubes.

linoleum restoration-5

And then I got to the point where I started overworking it.

And then N became a backseat painter.

He almost became painted and feathered (or sawdusted).

linoleum restoration-6

And in the end, it is convincing enough.

I need to scrub off a little more of the yellowy wax build-up in the surrounding area (which I should have done before I painted) and with a few coats of sealant, it should be even better?

We still have another floor guy coming out to give another quote this week just in case…

Oh, and rugs, right?  One of those will help it even more!

But really, this is better for all even if it isn’t perfect – being “green” is most effective when you can keep what you’ve got.  I’m able to donate the ugly but still perfectly use-able floating floor to a charity building organization too.

*Linoleum is not vinyl, it’s made of linseed oil, and is historically appropriate and “green.”  This also does not contain asbestos as did other similar resilient tile flooring before the 1980s.

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Not too busy for a weekend jaunt…

I am busy these days.

I’m working on some knitting that is taking far longer than I’d expected, but must be completed in a certain amount of time, so I’m monogamous with it.

I’ve been work-working more hours.  And I’ve been doing some blogging for work that fills up that little writing time and space brain-hole that usually gets stuffed here.

But I’ve also been away due to both work and pleasure.  Recently, we had a nice long weekend in my old city visiting our old haunts.

We bought lots of delicious (and cheap) Italian foodstuffs.

weekend-meat

Basked in the warmth of radiators (I haven’t yet mentioned how I entirely [and somewhat irrationally] abhor forced-air heat).

weekend-radiators

Had properly made espresso drinks at our old neighborhood cafe.

weekend-caffe

Visited the lovely WPA mural in the post office again – it even has a spinner!

weekend-mural

And though I didn’t [cannot] visit my old LYS [due to potential uncontrollable purchasing] I did pop in another shop just out of town.  It was one of those tiny places where you’re the only one there and suddenly face-to-face with the owner who seems hopeful and maybe slightly desperate, and either way she’s friendly and helpful and you feel obligated to buy a little something.

weekend-yarn

So I did.

(I’m tempted to make another Honey Cowl with it, but I know it will be an oh-so-soft, but pill-crazy yarn, so I’ll either mix it up with something more durable, felt/full it, or most likely,  just sit on it for awhile… The color is more in the forest berries/cranberry range and less purple and pink than it appears – I think the colorway is “currant.”)

And what trip isn’t complete without a thrift store stop?

weekend-coat

This is such an entirely uncharacteristic garment for me in terms of color, but it’s a great vintage find.

weekend-coatdetail

I bought it to re-sell, but I just might keep it since it fits… winter greys be damned!

(It kinda hurts the eyes though).

(I got it in a small chain of regional thrift stores that absolutely have their heads up their asses when it comes to pricing.  Something that is a “better” department store or preppy shop brand will be priced astronomically, while vintage  and actual high-quality label things are often a steal – which is often a happy coup, but lousy when you find a holey and felt-able or harvest-able sweater and it’s priced at $19.99 but should be no more than $2.99.   The coat above was only $4.99, handmade in wool, in perfect condition, and from a fancy downtown shop that no longer exists…)

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