Thursday, December 30, 2010

Project 365

I hope you all had Merry Christmasses and that Santa was good to you! My fella and I treated ourselves to a new SLR camera for our mutual Christmas present, and I am VERY excited about it. In fact, I have decided to beef up my photography skills by taking one photo a day for the entire year (known around the blogosphere as Project 365).

I'm not hoping to achieve feats of great artistic genius with these photos. All I want to do is challenge myself to do something creative every day, to learn how to use my camera better, and document little slices of life. By the end of the year, all I'm hoping for is a cool collection of interesting shapshots.

I'm still getting the hang of my new camera and haven't uploaded any of my photos yet -- so in the meantime, here are some snaps that have caught my eye on Flickr recently. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Pretty vignette from one of my favourite Toronto bloggers - Karyn at Make Something

A sweet appliqued tea towel from Angelina 79
Another shot from Karyn at Make Something. I like this one because it was taken at the coffee shop around the corner from my house (called - you guessed it - Hula Girl).

Cross-stitched ornament from Lena Corwin
Rachelredlips' beautiful version of the men's shirt from Collete Patterns. I got this pattern for my fella for Christmas and he wants his in black and white gingham too.
An adorable mitten garland by jbonikowski. This is on my must-make list for next Christmas!

PS - I feel like I should name my camera. I have a habit of naming inanimate objects that I have a special attachment to (I named my wedding dress Evelyn, and my KitchenAid mixer is named Beatrice...because she beats things).  Any suggestions for my new camera??  Ruby? Stella? Sanchez?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The honeymoon sweater

After we got married in August 2009, my fella and I went on our honeymoon in Nova Scotia. It was a perfect place to relax after the wedding -- charming, interesting, and full of stunning views like this:

One of the most awesomely surprising things about our trip was when we stumbled across an amazing yarn store smack dab in the middle of rural Nova Scotia -- the Lismore Sheep Farm. It's actually a working farm where they take the wool from these guys:

An actual Lismore Sheep Farm sheep
And turn it into this:

My personal knitting nirvana
And, as if finding this treasure trove of yarn wasn't enough, each skein only cost $4.75. Yes, $4.75 for 100 per cent wool from sheep grazing about 100 feet away. Needless to say, I went a bit nuts. I got enough yarn to make a sweater for me, a sweater for my fella, and a couple skeins to bring home for my Mom and sister. Plus, we went back the next day to buy at 100% wool blanket. I broke the zipper of my suitcase trying to stuff in all the woolly goodness.

So, fast forward a year and a half to the present day. You would think that would have been ample time to finish at least one of the sweaters I intended to make with all of that honeymoon yarn. Well, my friends, I'm sorry to report that this is as far as I've got:

Kind of pathetic, no? I'm about three inches into making the Cobblestone Pullover for my fella. With any luck, it will eventually look like this:

Did I mention my husband is 6'6"? That's a LOT of torso to cover. Maybe that's why this is the first sweater I've ever knit for him. But I've decided to pick this up again and devote some serious time to this honeymoon sweater over the holidays. Who knows? With any luck, I'll have it finished by our second anniversary!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The $117 couch

This is a story about how this...

...turned into this...

...and the whole thing (couch included) only cost $117.

Several weeks ago, I bought a new couch on Craigslist. There was nothing really wrong with our old couch, but my cats had developed a deep love for scratching it and the upholstery was starting to look a little battered. Plus, it was chocolate brown, which showed every single strand of fur that migrated off of our fluffy kitties.

So, with the help of my strong-armed husband, I gave away our old couch and picked up this one. It was listed for $80, but because of some wear and tear on the wooden bits, I bargained the seller down to $60 ($60!!). I rented a steam-cleaner for $50 and spent an afternoon making sure it was squeaky clean.  (That brings the grand total up to $110, for anyone who's keeping track).

For several weeks, I hemmed and hawed about what to do with the wooden part of the couch. It was chipped and worn and definitely needed to be dealt with in some way, but I didn't want to pay an arm and a leg to have it refinished. Finally, during a free afternoon this week, I decided to seize the day.

I carefully taped off all the edges, then sanded, primed, and painted the wood using some white paint I already had on hand. I used that ridiculously tiny brush to do the whole thing, just so I could be as precise as possible. I had no idea if it would turn out or not, but in the end, I was pleasantly surprised.

I honestly can't believe how well it turned out. I knew I was playing with fire (white paint + beige upholstery = lots of potential for disaster) but I made sure to be very careful with the paint and had some spot cleaner on hand in case I dripped. (Which, of course, I did, but I was able to remove it right away so it didn't leave any permanent spots).

Though most of it turned out really well, there were a couple of places where it looked pretty messy. So, I went out and bought $7 worth of beige cording from Fabricland. I ran a bead of hot glue between the upholstery and the wood, then pressed the cord into the glue to hide all of the not-so-perfect spots.

So, there you have it: a new couch for $117 and a couple hours' worth of elbow grease. I think the white paint makes this couch look so much more modern. I love this style, but it felt a little too grandma-y before the makeover.

Oh, and I also made some new pillows using some Amy Butler and Heather Bailey fabric (some of which I had on hand from other projects, and some of which I bought online). So, I guess this project technically cost me more than $117.

 But having a one-of-a-kind, modern grandma-style couch with fabulous colourful pillows? That's priceless.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


I have seen so many cute yarn wreaths popping up all over the interweb lately. Like these ones:
From Take Heart
And this one:
From my internet friend and fellow crafter Creative Kat
So I decided to make my own.

I followed this tutorial to the letter, including the idea to add the little felt flowers. I had the yarn in my stash already and the felt cost about $3 total, so all in all, it was very easy on my wallet. The most expensive thing was the $15 styrofoam wreath form (damn you and your exorbitant styrofoam prices, Michaels!)

This was honestly one of the easiest and most satisfying projects that I've done in a long time. It's basically impossible to screw up. Even the felt flowers, which are the "hardest" part of this project, are very simple and satisfying to make. Plus, the colour possibilities are endless. I made this one to match the red and aqua in my kitchen.

Simple, cute, easy, and inexpensive. What could be better?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

One of a kind show

I love the One of a Kind Show. I've gone for the past several years and always find one or two things that NEED to come home with me. This year was no exception. My fella was kind enough to escort me, which made it a) more fun and b) easier to not buy absolutely everything that I wanted. There's nothing like a voice of reason to make you back away from your fourth impulse buy of the day.

The first thing we took home are these cute little mason jar tealight holders, which are made by a local tinsmith. (See his website here). They're currently sitting on our kitchen table.

We also bought a very cool tealight holder for our mantle. (Notice a theme emerging here?) It's actually made from a bit of a recycled barrel from a winery in the Okanagan valley in B.C. I saw these last year and have been thinking about them ever since. (Visit the vendor's website here).

What I love about this is the inside of the candleholder is stained a dark burgundy from the wine, and the outside is marked by the metal that held the barrel together.

Finally, I totally splurged on this lightbox from a young designer named Christie Greyerbiehl. She takes vintage fabric -- in this case, an old bedsheet -- adds a screenprint design, then turns it into a lightbox.

Pretty, eh?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Decking the halls

I've got big crafting plans for Christmas this year. I have this insane idea about hand-making as much as I can, from presents to decorations to edible goodies. That may be about as realistic as those commercials featuring impeccably dressed, well-behaved families sitting beside a perfectly decorated 35-foot high Christmas tree while starting lovingly at each other. But I figure if I get a running start, I may be able to pull some of it off.

First up in Christmas Craftfest 2010: a wreath for the front door. I gathered a whole bunch of red stuff from Ikea, the Dollar Store, and Michaels -- Christmas ornaments, silk flowers, feathers, cool berry-looking things, and a faux-winterized branch. I also made some pom-poms from my own yarn stash (which you can find out how to do here).

A little tip: if you're planning on making a wreath like this, buy waaaay more supplies than you think you'll need. And preferably, stock up at the cheaper stores like Ikea and Dollarama. Michaels can be shockingly pricey (case in point: I bought a solid circle of styrofoam and cut a hole in the centre because all the styrofoam wreath forms were, like, $15. Seriously Michaels? $15 for a hunk of styrofoam?) Oh, and  try to find non-breakable Christmas balls. It would be very sad to spend lots of time and money on a beautiful wreath only to find your hopes dashed by fragile balls. Ahem.

For my wreath, I started with the Christmas balls, 'cause they were the biggest and least flexible. I took off the little silver caps, put some hot glue onto the base, burned my fingers, cursed, then affixed them nose-down to the wreath.

I continued this pattern of gluing, finger-burning, and cursing until it started to look like this:

Then this:

Then this:

Then finally, when I had barely any fingertips left, it was done!

I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out. I don't necessarily think Christmas decorations should be trendy -- I prefer to go the classic route so I can use them for years and years. My favourite parts of this wreath are the pom poms and the little birdie sitting at the base:

Though I won't officially start decorating for Christmas until December, I think this is going to look very nice on our front door. Even my poor glue-gunned fingers agree.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Kitty helpers

Remember when my cat Bruno was "helping" me with my sewing? For those of you who don't, here's a quick recap:

Well, now my other kitty, Milo, has decided to join in on the fun. He was ever-so-graciously assisting me with the same skirt this weekend.

Luckily, even with all of the "help," this skirt is done and is just waiting to be photographed. If only one of them knew how to work my camera.

Monday, November 8, 2010

My first crochet project

May I present my very first crocheted project: a snazzy electric blue scarf (modeled here with my new zebra-print shoes!)

I mentioned a few posts back that I took a learn to crochet class at Lettuce Knit here in Toronto over the summer. This soft, sqishy scarf is the first fruit of that labour. I used the Funky Chunky Scarf pattern from Crochet Today, which was a great introduction to the craft.

I'm very glad I learned to crochet. I was able to pick it up fairly easily thanks to all of my knitting experience, and it's good to know that I'll be able to tackle a crochet project if anything tickles my fancy in the future. Still, I have to say that knitting is still my first love. Crochet, I think, will probably play second fiddle when it comes to fibre projects.

That being said, I really, really, like this scarf. Even though it's acrylic (which is basically a swear word in fibre-land) it's soft and drapes very nicely. Plus, I can throw it in the wash if I accidentally spill coffee on myself (which happens more than I would care to admit).

I'll leave you with a shot of me lovingly stroking my handiwork. 

 Hellloooo, lovely.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Object crush

You know what's awesome?

Plate racks.

Bet you didn't expect me to say that.


I'm officially on the lookout for a plate rack. I just think they're so charming and pretty.

Are you listening, Santa??