Saturday, January 14, 2012

There's No Place Like Home

Ed sent me a picture of his granddaughter with the well-traveled hutch that finally found a home.

And they lived happily ever after.  The End

Friday, January 13, 2012

Adventures of a Child's Hutch

It took many hands and many moves to finish this child's hutch.  Here are all the memories that come to mind when I see this hutch.
  • Being so happy to find a woodworking class in Wisconsin (at Western Wisconsin Technical College) when wood shops in the schools were becoming an endangered species.
  • Finding the instructions for the hutch in an out-of-print library book and then being able to find a used copy online and buying it - one of my first online book purchases.
  • Resizing the directions with hubby whose mantra is "Math is power".
  • Building this for a child, but making it the right size to hold CDs if there were no children.
  • Having Kevin, my wood shop teacher, help me every step of the way - especially when it was time to put the door caps on the tops and bottoms of the doors.
  • Not finishing it because the class ended and we had to move to Boston.
  • Storing CDs in it in the hall of our Boston apartment without bottoms in the drawers, a back, or the doors attached - the hutch, not the apartment!
  • Searching for and never finding a woodworking class in Boston.
  • Searching for and never finding the perfect hardware.
  • Trying to offer the pieces to Brendaen (woodworker extraordinaire and father to many girls) when he and his family stopped by to visit us the night before we moved to California.
  • Brendaen offering to help me finish it 'right then and there' and finding out later that he and his family had just come from an appointment where he had been called to be the new bishop of our ward.
  • Moving the thing, in pieces still, to California.
  • Meeting Ed at church and finding out that he was a woodworker and that he had a shop in his garage.
  • Finally finding the perfect hardware at Restoration Hardware.
  • Putting all the pieces together with Ed's help.  Okay, Ed put the pieces together and I watched.
  • Leaving the hutch with Ed to finish and to keep for his granddaughters when we moved to Tennessee.
  • Getting an email (and pictures) from Ed that the hutch was finally done.
  • Laughing hysterically right now when I reread all these memories and then reread the title of the book that the project came from!
 The instructions are on page 172 of this book.

 Hubby's math and drafting skills in action.

 "Exploded" view - love it!

We could buy our stock from the teacher - a definite plus!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Ottoman Empire

While walking past the ottomans in Target, my friend Lynette said something like, "If you had a bunch of these, you'd have an Ottoman Empire."

Like so many of my projects, this ottoman reminds me of different places.  I remember buying the once dirty gold velvet ottoman at a thrift store in San Diego for $8.  I paid way too much for the fabric to recover it.  Even 12 years later it still seems like way too much.  We hauled the ottoman and the fabric across the country in our move to La Crosse, Wisconsin.

When I see this ottoman, I think of a 40-minute drive on narrow country roads that wound through stark wintery farmland.  I think of Delilah who, with her calm and soothing voice, always kept me company during the drive.  I remember Jerry's upholstery shop that was located next to her house on her 120 acres of land.  I remember being so in love with the idea of having her life - at least what I saw of it.

Here's what I learned in upholstery class:
  • A seemingly simple ottoman is full of surprises when you start taking it apart - like a diagonal zipper between the pillow top and the base.
  • It takes approximately a gazillion staples and tacks to attach the different fabrics to the wood frame.
  • Even though Jerry says you shouldn't worry about matching the fabric pattern on the side of the ottoman, you should if you're a Gwin.
  • Industrial upholstery sewing machines can easily sew through like 27 layers of fabric.
  • Lots of piping means there will be lots of sewing.
  • People who teach upholstery classes get a lot of business from the students who can't hack the class. 

Here's a closer view of the ottoman - the unmatched pattern on the sides always drove me crazy.  By the way, I took these photos so I could sell this stuff on craigslist before our move to California.  There was no way this huge furniture was going to fit in our itty bitty living space in California.

Postscript:  Today, January 20th, I was looking through some old Wisconsin pictures and came across a quasi "before" picture of the ottoman.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Mystery Sweater

Here's a sweater that I don't remember anything about, except that I made it.  Does anyone out there know anything about this sweater?

Crocheted Commercial

Unique, clever and a bit disgusting - all wrapped up in one commercial.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Knitting for the Folks in Switzerland

Back when I had fewer nieces and nephews, I would make lots of stuff for them.  But now there are too many to keep up with.  Anyway, my hubby's sister's family got a lot of handmade stuff because they started having kids first (on my husband's side).  They sent me these pictures from Switzerland (that's where they live) about five or six years ago.  I rarely get to see people wear or use the stuff I send them because I don't usually live near them, so it was nice to get these pictures.

Here are the stockings I've made for them over the years, minus one for Alexandra.  I think that Amy has bequeathed her snowflake stocking to Alexandra.  Isn't that just like a mom?

Here's cute little Noah sporting a chunky gauge sweater from Sirdar's Babies in Denim pattern book.  I'm pretty sure he thought this picture wasn't going to happen if he could just keep his eyes closed.

Here he is again with his Christmas stocking.  After I made all these elaborate stockings, I realized they probably weren't very kid friendly - lots of little pieces that can fall off and not very easy to wash because of all the doodads and the wool yarn.  What was I thinking!?

Here's Sophie happily modeling her sweater and stocking.  Don't you just love her cute little smirk?

Here's Sarah in her sweater.  A lot of the things I knit hold memories for me.  I knit Sarah's sweater while I was visiting them in Switzerland.  Hubby was off in Slovakia meeting up with his parents and I stayed with Amy's family in Zurich.  I was a knitting fiend trying to finish this before we left their house.

I also remember doing lots of fun things with them while I was there.  I loved going to their big community pool with them.  We also went to some fun historic sites.  Probably the most lasting impression was the trip to Walmart in Germany.  It was an hour's drive each way.  We filled up two overflowing carts, paid for the stuff, loaded the van, and then went back and did it again.  Then we had to lug all those groceries up four flights of stairs.  It was crazy.  But, I digress.

So, I'm just realizing that there aren't any pictures of Nick (nor Alexandra because she didn't exist yet).  Nick, where were you?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Cabled Christmas Stocking

This is my Christmas stocking.  I made it for myself...three times.  I gave away the first two and made myself a third one a few years ago.  I promised myself that I wouldn't give this one away.  I love texture in knitting, especially cables and bobbles.  So this is the perfect stocking for me.

Here's a close up of the detail at the top.  The top piece is knit separately going the other direction and then attached to the stocking while making the I-cord, if I'm remembering correctly.  It was a bit tricky.

Here's a brief video on how to make I-cord, just in case you were wondering.

Musical Stocking

This is the stocking that I knit for my musical hubby early in our marriage.  It's the same pattern I used on these stockings.

The notes and treble clefs are made from crocheted chains that I sewed onto the stocking in the shapes that I wanted.

Here's a close up of the toe.

If you're a beginning knitter and want to try socks, I suggest that you start with a Christmas stocking for your first project.  You won't have to worry about the gauge (making it a specific size) and you won't have to worry about making a second one to match the first.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Containing Christmas

You know that amazing box of delicious pears that you got from your mom for Christmas?  Don't throw away the packaging!  Look what you can do with it!


I just realized that these four ornaments represent three phases of our lives.  The pink one is a hand-painted one that I got in Wisconsin, while serving with the young women at church.  Obviously, the Green Bay Packers ornament came from Wisconsin too.  In California (the Bay Area) my Redwood Middle School principal gave each staff member a school ornament.  The other one is a hand-made ornament from Crystal B.  It has rice in it, commemorating my first Christmas with my fairly new hubby.  We lived in San Diego at time.  But, I digress.

If you didn't get a box of pears from your mom, you can just collect those stretchy fruit protector thingies throughout the year and use them to protect your fragile ornaments.


Here's the best discovery though.  Every year I take my nativities out of their form-fitted Styrofoam packaging and think to myself, "Oh, I'll remember where they go."  And every year I spend way too much time trying to get them back into the correct slot.  It seems like it should be such a simple task.  I don't know why I didn't think of this about 20 years ago.  Doh!

Look, everyone is "nestled, all snug in their beds".


I didn't take pictures of Christmas set up this year, but it pretty much look like this.  This year the 10-piece nativity above was added to the nativity collection.  And I added a couple of reindeer to the reindeer collection.

My goal for the last decade or so has been to "contain" Christmas in four plastic tubs.  Here's almost everything boxed up and ready for the tubs.

Okay, it's really 4.5 tubs.  A few years ago the light collection got out of hand and moved to a half-sized tub.  And this year Santa was displaced by the new nativity.  I think that's a good precedent to set though.  What do you think?