It’s a bedside table. No, it’s a bookshelf!

It’s inevitable that when you move house there’ll be a couple of pieces of furniture that take a while to find their spot, and new pieces of furniture to buy. We’ve spent so much on fixing up the house and garden that I’m trying to reign in the spending elsewhere, and that includes furniture.

We sold our old bedside tables and matching chests of drawers to the buyer of our old house, and needed to replace the tables. Some of the book shelving at the old place was built in, so we had a couple of boxes of books with no place to go. I hit on the idea of fixing both problems at the same time: bookshelf bedside tables.

Looking at furniture websites, I couldn’t find anything that was both attractive and reasonably priced. I suggested to Paul that we make them ourselves out of the wine boxes sold at the local liquor merchant, as we did with my craft side table and magazine rack.

So Paul did the carpentry and I sanded, painted and varnished. With the addition of a few planks of wood and some feet from Bunnings we had these for less than $200 each:

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They look great filled with books, which will hopefully encourage me to read more:

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Hmm. Books. I haven’t done my “Books Read in 2014″ post yet.

Projects of 2014

What a year! It’s been one of big contrasts and challenges. At the beginning I had enough spare energy and time to take on the HW&S Guild Mystery Box Challenge. I kinda regretted that. What I made was way more effort than the end result was worth.

By the middle of the year my energy and time was all tangled up in buying, moving, fixing up and selling houses. At the end of the year Paul was rushing to get his final year exhibition and folio together and I had a major writing deadline move three times. You can see the impact everything had on my craft output in this summary:

January:
Finished Cat’s Portrait
Updated my New Zealand photo album
Tried Sumi-e
Did a Miniature Tapestry Weaving Workshop
Made a stud bracelet
Took on the HW&S Guild of Victoria Mystery Box Challenge
Refashioned some clothes
Gave a friend a weaving lesson
Wove the Huckleby Hemp Scarf
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Bound the Squirrel Scorpion Book
Turned a broken colour-changing umbrella into a shower cap
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Tackled some Knitwear Refashions

February:
Stitched a diamond necklace
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Wove a Big Blue Blanket and a scarf
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March:
Painted while camping
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Finished the Autumn Fairy for the Mystery Box Challenge
Wove a thick and thin scarf from frogged yarn

April:
More refashioning! With my new sewing machine:
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Including glamming up a 20s costume into an evening dress
Made an photo album of our trip to Japan
Stitched a gift brooch

May:
Finished stitching a skull
Made a cross-stitch clutch
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Worked out how to weave leno with two heddles on a rigid heddle loom

June:
We bought a house!
More knitwear refashions

July:
Finished a portrait
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Sewed lavender bags for the move
Sewed folio bags for the move

August:
Settled. Moved. Prepared old house for sale. Sold it.

September:
Embroidered a vest (though I’m not sure if it’s finished)
Finished weaving the leno scarf
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October:
Repurposed two old frames into ensuite mirrors
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November:
Converted an old kitchen cart into a bar cart
Made a jewellery display pin board
Made jewellery!
Made more jewellery!
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Made shade card pom poms
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Started extensive and expensive landscaping

December:
Finished two more portraits
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Made shorts.
Tried a Kogin embroidery kit and made a bag from it.
Sewed blanket binding around the Double Trouble Baby Blankets.
More refashioning!

By December we were exhausted, my RSI had made a comeback and my physio had raised the possibility of rheumatoid arthritis. But I’ve finished my work and have settled in for a month of rest, recovery and enjoying the new house with friends.

A Bit of Dressing Up

I’ve just finished a little weekend project, which had the added bonus of motivating me to unpack yet another box: a new costume jewellery board.

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Back at the last house I kept my costume jewellery on two pinboards I bought and covered with calico:

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There’s no convenient alcove to use as a dressing table here. Initially I wanted to put a shelf in the walk-in-robe, but there wasn’t room for it. The next choice was having an actual dressing table in the bedroom. Using the old Singer sewing machine table seemed like a good option as it’s small and cute and it means we don’t have to buy another piece of furniture, so I put it in position… and covered it in unpacked boxes of bags, shoes and jewellery.

I had a table, but what about a place to display jewellery? For a while I flirted with the idea of turning my old printer drawer into one, but most of my costume jewellery is necklaces and the compartments are the wrong size.

So I eyed those old pinboards. They were the wrong colour for the bedroom, so I’d have to sand and repaint, replace the fabric, and make two new holes in the wall to hang them. Or I could take that old metal poster frame with no board or glass that’s been hanging around in the garage, buy a new board and come cork squares that happened to be exactly the right size to fit 2 x 3 in the frame…

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… then glue the tiles, assemble the frame and hang it up by a chain to a new nail in the existing nail hole, stick some pins in it, unpack, cull and hang the jewellery…

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The end result looks great and was pretty quick to knock together. The cork and black frame match the sewing table wood colour and cast iron base. I also bought a lamp and mirror on the same trip to get the tiles and board. And I’ve moved my make-up and perfume into some decorative boxes.

The old pinboards are going into the craft room, where I’m sure I’ll get plenty of of use out of them as inspiration boards.

And speaking of inspiration, I now feel the urge to make some jewellery…

My DIY Bar Cart

Ah, Pinterest. I save it for the evenings, to read during ad breaks or if the show we’re watching starts to bore me.

In the old house I used a kitchen cart in the bathroom as the cabinet. It was much cheaper to put a pedestal sink in and buy a piece of cheap furniture to use as a cabinet than to buy a vanity have it installed. The cart was an ex-display piece from Freedom, if I recall correctly. Bargain!

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I wasn’t sure what to do with it in the new house. It didn’t match the style of any furniture, though the kitchen was white so I figured it wouldn’t stand out like a sore toe in there. Then I saw lots of bar carts, DIY and new, appearing on Pinterest and that looked like a good way to serve alcohol out on the deck without carting bottles and glasses out from the kitchen.

Only problem was, the middle shelf was in the wrong place. You couldn’t fit most bottles of spirits in either gap. But that was easy enough to fix. Being flat-pack furniture, it had been put together with screws and an alan key, I just had to unscrew the shelf, drill new holes where I wanted it, and reattach.

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It was then that I discovered it fits perfectly under the kitchen bench.

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I tried it out at the weeding and tennis party, and immediately wanted improvements. I’d used a plastic tub as a drawer for the bottles, but the whole cart moved when I tried to get inside it. My solution:

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That’s a cord wrapped around each leg twice, which is strong enough to prevent the bottles falling out but flexible enough that I can get to them when I need to.

Serving drinks was messier than anticipated, and when I found I needed to wash glasses to reuse them I fetched a bucket of soapy water and a tea towel. There was nowhere for the towel, so we installed two rails. I could hang two towels, or used one rail to hang tools on, if I ever get that fancy.

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Needing to consult and search for recipes meant getting my phone or cocktail book all sticky, so I needed somewhere to safely stow the latter, too. One document holder adaption later…

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The pool in our new house has a liner, so the possibility of broken glass getting into it and causing a leak is a bit scary. I’ve bought a collection of plastic glasses to use instead. They fit in the basket – which I can use to carry inside all the dirty glasses later.

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And, of course, I’ve got all inspired and bought some more cocktail ingredients…

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So I’m all set for bar cart test number 2: our Melbourne Cup Day BBQ.

Though I might have to do a little private check first. I think I have the ingredients for a chocolate martini in there…

As Done as it Gets

The carpet went in last week, freeing us up to do a whole lot of things. We’ve moved the bed from the old house and the mattress from the guest room floor and started sleeping in the master bedroom. Two visits to IKEA furnished the wardrobe – done as cheaply as possible to counter the inevitable overspend on other projects and damage from the storm that hit a few weeks after we moved in.

The ensuite is nearly done. After cleaning off all the renovation dust and muck, I found a few unfinished bits of caulking. I left the shower drain for the professionals and tackled the two bits along the tiling around the bath. The caulking gun kept jamming, but I did an good job of it (according to the caulking guy). Then, as I was struggling to get the canister out of the gun I slipped and dropped everything in the bath.

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And I hadn’t even had a chance to use it yet.

The guy from the bathroom company came and had a look, and said he could arrange someone to fix it. As he said, it would never happen with a five year old bath. Only a brand new one.

The drain was caulked in last night, so I had the first go of the new shower today. Other than the shower head being a bit too high, it all works fine. Phew! We just need to install towel rails, pick up a cabinet we ordered when it comes in, and for me to finish the trompe l’oeil bath alcove. Pics later, when it is done. Well, as the title of the post suggests, as ‘done’ as anything ever is when you’re a perpetual tinkerer.

Lots and lots of shuffling of furniture and boxes has started. I’d anticipating it for the second, but we went and decided to have a small party in a couple of weeks and to have the family room ready in time, didn’t we? Ah well, it does get us extra motivated as well as being something fun to look forward to.

This time I had better remember to put some loo paper in the outdoor loo!

The Art of Hanging Around

After removing all the artwork in our old house I was left with a LOT of nail holes to fill. For most it was just a matter of filling the hole then painting with undercoat and then dabbing paint on with the end of a brush. However, where the paint was older it had discoloured, and while in a few rooms I was able to thin down the paint with water and blend the edges of the fresher paint into the old, in some rooms the colour change was still visible.

It was worst in the workroom, where I’d had lots of little paintings hanging and the abundance of light had really changed the paint colour. The room wound up with lots of very obvious patches of new colour. It had to be repainted, but by then my right wrist was sore and swollen so I had to get a painter in.

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Dealing with all those nail holes was a lot of work and an unexpected expense. I’m now very reluctant to whack a whole lot of holes in the walls of the new house. Yet we have a lot of art: paintings, photographs, signs, clocks, mirrors and various objects that look good hung on walls. What to do?

I’ve started gathering clever ideas for hanging art without making nail holes. The first three are ones I’ve already used:

A shelf or the top of a bookcase.
The best part of this method is you can overlap the artwork and fit more in:

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There are a couple of places in our house with a dado rail we could install a shelf on top of, and we have a mantlepiece begging for overlapping art – though I’ll have to work out a way to stop them sliding off as it’s painted with slippery gloss paint.

Picture rail.
And old idea but a good one. The advantage is that art can go anywhere along the rail. Might not suit some houses, though, and where we have dado rails already it might be overkill. There’s a wall in the family room one would be fine for.

Picture hanging system.
This involves a purpose-made rail installed up under the architrave from which you hang a wire with a hook. The wire and hooks can be moved so you can position art wherever you like both vertically and horizontally. You can also put two or three paintings on each wire, depending on their size and weight. It’s expensive, but we’ve found the rail can be swapped for a curtain rail and the wire hung from the hooks used on picture rails:

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Or a picture rail, with a length of chain and an s-hook:

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One solution I haven’t tried yet for art is the removable plastic hook. I’ve used them to hang other things, like oven gloves. They don’t always come off cleanly, but if even half of them do that’s cut the time spent repairing walls considerably. I’m going to try these for our lighter pieces of art. For the gallery wall effect I’ll use nails for heavier pieces then then surround them with smaller, lighter ones on removable hooks.

Another solution I’m considering is to place art on something that either stands in front of or leans against the wall. Like this ladder. Or display easels. I saw several nice wooden easels going cheaply at an antique market a few weeks back, and I have one I don’t use for painting any more because the screws are too stiff for my hands.

Full size easels do take up floor space, but there are table easels that can sit on top of cabinets and shelves. And cookbook and plate holders will work for smaller artwork.

At the moment we have all our art leaning against cupboards and boxes in the family room. I don’t want to decide where anything is going until we’ve moved the rest of our furniture from the old house. But once I do, I have plenty of ideas for non-nail hanging and display methods to try, and no doubt another blog post to show how it all works out.

Mirror, Mirror

Pinterest has been great for finding inspiration for the new ensuite. The one at our old place was apple green and white, with a circular motif and an overall feel of modernness and fun. This time I took inspiration from the French Provincial kitchen, a couple of pics on Pinterest of bathroom with a luxury/glamour style, and some cool coloured glass sinks I bought online:

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I love those long rectangular mirrors, and last weekend I found a couple of old kitschy paintings in an antiques market with nice black frames.

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I took out the old factory-line paintings, cleaned them up and had mirrors cut for them:

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That’s the first of the new ensuite projects done. Yes, I have a couple more planned. The others are a bit more labour-intensive, so it’ll be a while before I get them done.

Plans Underfoot

I don’t expect that all the things I made for the old house will find the perfect spot here, but some have in ways that have been a pleasant surprise. The t-shirt and denim rag floor rugs proved to be exactly what I needed in the kitchen and bathroom to make the hard tile floor bearable for my still-sensitive feet. (I got plantar fasciitis at the beginning of the year.)

We’ve not needed floor rugs before. I made them because I like the look of them. Now we do – and we need big ones. There are three uncarpeted areas that need protection here: under the dining table, in the family room, and on a small area between the kitchen and the hall.

After pricing commercial rugs in the sizes we need I got a little dizzy and started googling DIY floor rug ideas instead. I’d weave them, but my loom can only make 80cm wide strips. I don’t like the look of strips stitched together, or the thought of the loom being occupied with floor rugs for a long time, so I’ve been looking at non-loom rag rug DIYS or methods that only require a simple, small loom.

There are various tutorials out there for making rugs from braided rag strips. One kind has you hand or machine stitch the braid into a coil, but with rugs the sizes I’m thinking of it will be too hard to hold and manipulate it under the machine. There’s a ‘no-sew rag rug‘ method that’s appeals more.

I reckon I could also make a rug by crocheting around the rag strips with heavy cotton thread, like I did for the coaster below using linen thread around heavy twine:

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All of those methods involve lots of twisty, fiddly RSI-inducing work for the hands, however. There’s a basketry method similar to the crochet one where you simply hand sew each round to the last, but it might be too slow for a large rug.

Recently an email from Interweave reminded me of pin looms. Perhaps I could make a larger pin loom to weave squares on then join them together to form a rug. It would make the majority of the work do-able while watching tv at night. Rather like crocheting granny squares.

And there’s another idea: granny squares crocheted from rag strips using a huge hook. It still might aggravate the RSI in my hands, however.

One rag rug method that I’m not considering seriously because it’s very slow is the rya or ‘shag’ rug one, where you knot short strips onto a mesh. Still, it is very appealing, especially done with soft t-shirt material.

Other DIY floor rug ideas I’ve found include buying a cloth drop sheet and painting it, or embellishing a coir rug. The former wouldn’t provide a softer surface to walk on, and the cat would consider the latter a giant nail sharpening mat.

I think a little experimenting with pin looms is in order. But if you know of another cheap DIY floor rug method, let me know.

WIP-lash!

As the trials an tribulations of pool ownership continue, investigation commence into how to prevent the neighbour’s back yard washing into ours next time there’s a storm, and the excitement of the ensuite/WIR renovation extends a week longer than scheduled, I’ve been dipping my toe into crafty waters. Just one toe, and not very deeply, but it’s a start.

So I thought I’d do another bloggy exercise to get those crafting brain cells firing: the WIP update.

Alan’s Portrait:
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Just the arms to do. I’ve not gone to art classes for two weeks, and probably won’t make it this week, so hopefully I can get back to it next week.

Double Trouble Baby Blankets:
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Still waiting for me to add the binding, but not that the craft room is tidy I have room to set up the sewing machine.

Grey Vest:
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I got this far before moving house. Not sure if I should add more and/or if I should put some of the same stitching on the matching skirt. Part of the reason I’m hesitating is that I’m not sure I like how I’ve finished the stitching at the back. The ends kept working their way out again so I’ve knotted them, and it looks messy. But who cares what it looks on the inside, eh?

Two Heddle Leno Scarf:
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Haven’t touched it since the move. I’m not liking how it’s wider at the beginning and I’m thinking of unweaving and starting again. I’ve not had trouble with weaving pulling in at the edges this much before, and I’m guessing it’s because the yarn is slippery silk.

The Art Necklace:
What art necklace?

Kogin Tissue Cosy:
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I’ve worked on this little kit three times now, and it has proved to be a good interesting-but-not-too-challenging project for evenings of post-house move/reno exhaustion.

Eye:
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My travel craft project. Went to Brisbane with me.

Inkle Band:
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Another travel project. Not on the WIP list in the sidebar because I always have one on the go.

Finishing these projects seems achievable now that I’ve spent a little time thinking about what I need to do. I just need to make time to do it – and not get distracted by new project ideas and gardening.

Have to say, being stuck on ADSL internet speeds makes blogging about craft a test patience.

Craft Room

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Still some tidying to do. I did most of it in a fit of obsessive organising. I even made a scale drawing in Illustrator of the wardrobe to help me work out what would fit where.

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The left side is for paper-related craft, the right for fibre-related craft. The middle shelves and drawers are for everything else. Art materials and tools went into my tool trolley in the laundry, and the art instruction books and canvasses into the huge laundry cupboard. I rearranged the loom, knitting machine and tables until they fit reasonably well.

And then… well, more important things took away my attention and some last boxes of craft-related stuff were shoved in there, leaving the craft room not quite organised enough to comfortably use. I suspect I need a big surge of inspiration to push me into finishing. Maybe it’ll come soon. After all, I’ve done a bit of a tidy up of my to-do lists on this blog, and that often leads me to tackle projects.

Well, it turned out writing the above was the push I needed. A few hours later I started finding homes for the contents of boxes added after the first tidy-up, and repacking the wardrobe more efficiently with the help of my trusty Illustrator file. I turned the loom 90 degrees and liked it better that way. I’m sure there’ll be more adjusting, but I feel like I could start working on a project now, without having to spend a few hours making room for it first.

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Have I explained the missing wardrobe doors? The wardrobe in this room has three doors to the hanger spaces on either side of the central drawer and shelf section. There’s an inconvenient beam blocking entry 1/3 and 2/3 across each section. The only reason we can think of is that the beam is extra support for the shelves. We’re going to add internal supports to the shelves, remove the beam and join two doors on either side with hinges so they open concertina-style.

Once we find time. Which could be a while.