For The Man Who Has Everything

A colleague of mine with a penchant for fancy socks is retiring this year.
To honour him, I was commissioned to create a bouquet of…. socks.

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It was exactly the kind of challenge I love!
I spent a week or so thinking about how to go about it and then I sat down and got started.
I had six pairs of socks, so ended up with twelve “blooms.” Each sock became a single flower. After some trial and error, I ended up using some embroidery thread to gather each sock, using a running stitch along the bottom of the sock and pulling it tight. You can see in the photo where I stitched each one, indicated by the red dotted line.

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Once each sock was gathered, I just wrapped the gathered edge together, using the toe as the centre of each flower. A few stitches secured each one in place and soon I had twelve rosette-style flowers.

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What do to for stems? I decided to use a black button for each flower’s centre, securing it to a paper straw with a dab of hot glue (I stuck the shank of the button into the opening at one end of the straw). Then, I slid the straw through the centre of the rosette; the button stopped it from falling out. A few more stitches of embroidery thread through the paper straw and the sock to hold each flower together and, ta-da! Twelve sock roses!

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Next up, I used garden twine to make a French-tied bouquet and then tied on a jaunty polka-dotted ribbon I’ve been saving in my stash for just such an occasion.

When he is ready to wear the socks, all the recipient has to do is snip the embroidery thread (I was sure to use contrasting colours so that it would be easy to see) and unfurl each sock. The perfect bouquet to extend the length of time between loads of laundry!

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My colleague was delighted with his bouquet, I am happy to report.

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All Gangstas Must Knit (Valar Knit-ulus?)

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My darling BFF is CEO of a cool little company called Wool and the Gang. It’s the brainchild of two Central St Martin’s grads who had a vision to focus on sustainable fashion, their love of knitwear and the growing maker movement. You can read more about them here— they are so cool and so are their products!

This past weekend, Delovely HQ became Gangsta HQ as my pal J and I hosted the inaugural Knit Your Own Jewelry Workshop! I was SO EXCITED! The jewelry in question was the Sansa Choker and the Khaleesi Bracelet.
Yes, you heard me: making pretty things and Game of Thrones. In ONE EVENT!
Seriously, interweb, I could hardly contain myself; my little geek soul was soaring, I swear.

I started by decking out our front door wreath in WATG style:

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I invited a posse of knitters, artists, fashionistas and all-around creative types. They came in droves and we had a blast, knitting, sipping (I’ll do a food post a bit later on) and chatting up a storm. Everyone left with a bracelet and a necklace she had made herself, a pair of gorgeous rosewood knitting needles and a pattern booklet so that she can make more  jewelry at home.

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People could order from the WATG website; they sell both ready-to-wear and knitting kits. We had samples of the yarn on-hand for people to see and touch, too. I am a sucker for the Crazy Sexy Wool and the Jersey Be Good. The latter is made from off-cuts of t-shirts, the kind of thing the textile industry would normally just trash. It comes from Turkey, where the off-cuts are sent to various villages to be wound onto cones for WATG; the initiative makes use of textile waste and employs women in the villages. What’s not to love? We also had a Lacy Sissy scarf that my BFF made me for my b-day a couple of years ago and our gorgeous Hold Tight Clutches.

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The knitters came with a range of knitting ability and, once they got their rhythm going, there was no stopping them. The littlest Gangsta took to it like a duck to water!

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Of course, being me, I embraced the whole Game of Thrones theme with a passion. I tarted up the dining room bulletin board with the WATG name, logo and hashtag, re-worked for the party with a GoT flair as “House,” “Sigil” and “Words.” (Remember when Maester Luwin was drilling Bran?)

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I laid out the supplies on our dining room table (after protecting the surface with some kraft paper) and labelled each component with GoT references.

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(I used black chalk; in retrospect, chalk pen would have been better as the chalk got dust on our supplies.
Womp womp…)

I loved seeing everyone’s individual, #madeunique creations.

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I think Sansa and Danaerys would approve. 😉

Hoppy Easter!

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Need some quick and easy favours for Easter dinner?

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Here’s what I did with some cloth bags from the bargain bin at Target. First, I hand-stamped them with the recipients’ names and then filled them with some cute treats: Easter-themed bubbles (because nothing says “Spring!” like going outside and blowing bubbles!), and a few sweets. I had some heart-shaped thingies meant to jeuje up Ikea string lights, so added those to the ties on the bags and, quicker than you can say, “The Easter Bunny’s your uncle!” I was done.
My kinda project: speedy and sweet.
I gave mine away to my students, but they’d work well as place settings, too.

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If you celebrated Passover this week, I hope you had a great time and ate lots of yummy goodies.
If you are celebrating Easter this weekend, I hope you have a great time and eat lots of goodies.

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Circular Impressions

A few weeks back, I managed to snag the only Nate Berkus brass lamp base in the store at my local Target. I had had my eye on it online, so I was pretty chuffed when I ran across it.
I snapped it right up, even though there really wasn’t a shade that worked with it.

Luckily (M would certainly choose another word…), I am a lampshade hoarder, so I knew I’d have something in my stash that I could use to finish it off. In the end, the only thing I had that was the right scale was a plain white linen shade.
It looked okay. But it was, to be honest, too white for the room.

The search for the right shade was on.
I tried the coordinating Nate shade, in navy. Didn’t suit the room.
I found a burlap-esque one at Homesense and tried it. It was okay, but a bit too small and it made the light too dim.

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Then, I noticed Jana Bek‘s lovely desk lamps in her Instagram feed.

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I’d seen them around the interwebz and liked them, but Jana had made her OWN version and I thought to myself, “Self, this idea could be adapted to solve the lampshade problem….”  I figured I could easily transfer the painting idea from the base to the shade. Why not?

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Out came my favourite new paint and my brushes. I took a deep breath and….painted.
It looked….not too bad!
But the shade was lacking something, so I taped off the top and added a band of gold.

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I’m pretty happy with it. I will (because it’s just the way I roll) probably keep looking for the Absolutely Perfect Shade, but this one works just fine for now. The shade only cost $20, so it’s not a huge investment if I find something better down the line.

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Crazy Sexy Pom Pom

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 You might remember this from the festive season.

I loved the look of the pink glass bauble dangling from the antler of our golden ibex (or whatever he is) and I missed it when I de-Christmasified.

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Serendipitously, I found myself with some of leftover Crazy Sexy Wool in Hot Punk Pink after I knit myself my fabulous Billie Collar from Wool and the Gang.
I figured it was just about enough to make a big ol’ pompom. So I made one!

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I love the way it adds a pop of brightness to the wall above our bed.

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The size I chose to make was probably a bit too big for the amount of wool I had leftover, but I like the way the “looser” pompom allows for the movement in the wool to be visible. It is the most amazingly soft, thick wool and I like that I can see its sort of curly texture.

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Feel like making a giant pompom or two this weekend?
Here is a tutorial.
(I used a rectangular cardboard piece cut out of a box, rather than using an embroidery hoop.)

DIY Off-Piste

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If you are a DIY-er like me, then you know that projects do not always go according to plan… Sometimes, the thing you have envisioned so perfectly in your brain (which, for me, usually involves lying awake at night, figuring out how to make that vision into reality), ends up looking….well…. a bit crappy. There is even a big trend in the blogosphere of posting your most hilarious DIY failures.

But, sometimes, things work the other way and, though your finished project ends up looking nothing like your original plan, it ends up looking…. SO MUCH BETTER!
This is what keeps DIY-ers going– this SO MUCH BETTER THAN I IMAGINED result is the equivalent of DIY crack, Gentle Reader. It’s like seeing a unicorn.

I had just such a unicorn moment last week when I finally got around to making over a picture frame I picked up in the As-Is room at IKEA for a whopping $7.  I liked it because of the size of the mat– I am a sucker for an oversized photo mat, I must say. But I hated the cheap, damaged, faux-wood frame. Of course, as you know, I never met a bargain I didn’t want to paint, so home it came with me. My original plan was to  copy er, emulate these frames:

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I got started with my Annie Sloan chalk paint, but not even Annie would cover the weird, slick surface of the laminate frame. Frustrated and in a hurry (when am I not?), I wiped off the paint and gave the frame a quick sanding and then primed it. Next, Annie Sloan, but the colour was too yellow. So, I added a couple of coats of Farrow and Ball’s All White.

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And then, the unicorn moment: being in a hurry, I started to paint on the gold (how I LOVE this gold craft paint— it is soooo perfect!) before the white was totally dry, figuring I’d just go back and tape off the clean lines once things were dry and then fill in the gold up to the tape line. BUT, the gold paint goes on in a beautiful, sheer way and I really liked the way it created an ombré effect. Luckily, I had to sleep on it, as the paint was not dry enough to tape off. When I returned to the project the next day, I realized that the way the white and gold faded into each other really could not be improved upon.
Another coat or two of gold to add depth and I was done.

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And, then, I put the mat in and the sample of Timorous Beasties’ Thistle hand-inked wallpaper and there, Interwebz, was the unicorn: it looked sooooo good!  SO MUCH BETTER THAN I’D IMAGINED!
(Even M had to admit it was an impressive finished project. 😉 )

Also, just signed up for Bloglovin‘. I know. I’m very late to the party.

 

 

Good Idea. Sort Of.

If you’d like to see how I went about wrapping our computer cables, read on!

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In case you want to cover your cables for decorative purposes (as opposed to for prophylactic purposes– more on that later), here is a quick tutorial. If you went to camp or grew up in the 70s, chances are you already have mad macramé skilz, but if not, never fear!
This little project is super-easy. Time-consuming, but easy.

So fire up the latest season of House of Cards, and settle in to keep your fingers busy.

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I used some hand-dyed (is there any other kind?) hemp twine I picked up a few years back in the Hippie Hemp Capital of the Universe: Nelson, B.C.
The twine is soft and a good weight for wrapping the computer cable, but it could look pretty with silk cord or really fuzzy wool.  Ooh! What about ombré wool?!

I began by wrapping the twine around clothespins, in order to keep it corralled and to form a kind of shuttle that allowed me to unroll a manageable length at a time. I learned this via trial and error– for my iPad cable, I was wrestling with a messy ball of twine that had me saying the sorts of things I wouldn’t say in front of my grandmother. Ahem.

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Ready? Start at the “small” end of the charger (so that you can weave the tail of twine into your wrapping and keep it clean-looking), and tie a knot around the cable. When you start wrapping, you will wrap around the tail of twine as well as the cable, so that the tail gets hidden neatly away. Follow the instructions on the images below. It’s important to keep the twine going in the same direction as you wrap, or you will not get the spiral “spine” feature on your wrapped cable.

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That’s it– keep wrapping until your cord is covered.
When you get to the end, cut the twine and wrap a piece of pretty washi tape around it to keep it neat and to prevent it from unravelling.

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Easy, right?
Pretty, right?

Effective…..? WRONG.
Exhibit A:

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Le sigh.

 

 

Cats, 4; Cables, 0

Here is a sneak peek at a little project I undertook over the weekend. We have spent FAR TOO MUCH MONEY replacing charger cables that our cats have eaten right through. Our current batch of charger cables is the third or fourth replacement set. Given that there are two of us and we each need a charger, that kind of turnover rate can put a serious dent in the monthly budget. Plus, it’s a total pain to find your computer out of juice because the charger cord has been nommed into nothingness while you slept…

Last week, when our single remaining charger succumbed to the gnashings of tiny, feline fangs,  I finally said: “Enough. Is. Enough.” 

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Thus, in a bid to keep our feline familiars from destroying the most recent batch of cables,
(not to mention preventing the damage to their little catty brains from the electrical charge!)
I spent some time “wrapping” the wires in a sort of macramé/braided casing. I’m hoping the braid will serve as a deterrent, as the texture is not the same as the rubbery cable in its naked state (is that what they find so appealing?).  I’m also hoping that, should someone still feel compelled to teethe on the cord, the wrapping will protect the cable from sharp little fangs.
I’ll post a wee “how-to” later in the week, in case you need it.

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In the meantime, we shall see how this preventative measure works out…

Take it to the Mat

I have a bit of a habit of picking up “things to frame.” I do it a lot when I am travelling. Then I come home and put them all in my “things to frame” folder.
Where they generally languish for years.
YEARS, Gentle Reader.

Let’s face it, I’m too cheap impatient (ahem) to get things professionally framed, so I like to do it myself. I like my frames simple and my mats big because the latter can make even little souvenir postcards look like Real Art. I think the best source for simple, clean-lined, inexpensive frames is IKEA. The trouble is, sometimes your “things to be framed” do not match the available mat-opening sizes. But, given that IKEA stuff is pretty much designed to be hacked, here is a quick and easy hack anyone can do.

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I found the black frames for under $10 each (not on the website, alas) — I immediately fell for the wide black mat and the way it made the framed piece seem to float. I wasn’t so stuck on the plasticky black frames, but since I have a spray painting obsession, I was not too worried about them– I knew I could jeuje them up in a jiffy.  I bought three of them and then looked around for frames with the right sized opening to fit the slightly creepy line drawing postcards I picked up at the Louvre about 10 (!) years ago. I found some cute frames  with the appropriate-sized mats on sale for $3.99 each– I couldn’t have custom mats cut for that!

By layering the mats, I was able to get the larger frames’ mats to “fit” the small postcards and now I have three cute frames to use with any 5×7 “things to frame” that may make their way into my possession in the future. Win-win!

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I admit that I am not stuck on the gold frames– I think spraying them gold made them look a bit cheap, but I have a couple of options in mind to fix that. If the prints were more modern or funky, the frames would probably look fine, but the gold frames look too traditional for me when paired with these particular images.  Oh, well– it’s fun to have another project!

delovelydelightful(Once again, grainy photos– SUCH a dark room!
It’s cosy, but it blows when it comes to taking photos!)

Studio Envy

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I can’t remember how I stumbled on Iron & Twine, but I am so glad I did!

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I love the freshness of Michelle’s master bedroom, but it is her studio that really makes my heart beat faster. Her use of pegboard is particularly inspiring.
Now, I love my own little sewing/crafting space and I know how lucky I am to have it, but I do covet a space with windows and LIGHT. The charming vintage vibe of this one is so appealing, don’t you think?

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Want to see more? Check out the whole post here: Iron & Twine studio reveal.
Brace yourself– it’s goooood!