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. 😉

All In The Family

My sister-in-law has great taste. Her home is chic and modern and crisp and fun, just like her and her family. So I was really flattered when she texted me last week to ask for help with some design advice.  Quicker than you can say “Pinterest,” I was on the job! I set up a joint pin board for us and I started pinning away with my ideas to help her update her kitchen/dining space to make it more functional for her busy family.

Here are a few of the things on her “Must Have” list:

-a “command centre” to keep all my adorable niece & nephew’s school forms, calendars, etc in order
(Did I mention that my niece and nephew are ADORABLE?!)
-space to store stuff— table linens, my brother-in-law’s protein powder (man likes to work out!), all the trappings that come with kids, etc.
-new light for over the table
-cupboard storage reorganization

Not surprisingly, she and I are really on the same page with respect to the vibe/feel of the space– she even pinned some stuff that I had envisioned in my head but had not yet pinned!
Here are some of the images she added to our joint pin board:

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Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4.

These inspiration photos are very similar to what I had in mind for the space.
Stay tuned to see what I’ve got up my sleeve in Wednesday’s post!

Hop To It

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Recently, I was overcome by the NEED TO SEW SOMETHING. It had been far too long since I had made anything from scratch and I was longing to get out my sewing machine and some fabric. Serendipitously enough, I stumbled upon this post about Mandi‘s home-sewn bunnies.  Aren’t they adorable? I couldn’t wait to make a few of my own!

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I put my own spin on the size and shape, but I really loved the mis-matched eyes and the quirky personalities of Mandi’s bunnies, so I made sure to give my funny bunnies similar.

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These ones will be making their way to some little ones I know and love. This weekend will see me whipping up a few more in order to get them off to their destinations in time for Easter.

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What are you up to this weekend?

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.

 

 

#WIP

More on the now-ubiquitous gallery wall today. I still love a gallery wall, even though I fear it is the avocado-coloured kitchen appliance of the new millennium…
I like gallery walls because they offer a way to showcase a lot of pretty things in a way that “reads” as one big “piece.”  But, a word of warning: in order to work, a gallery wall needs to have a variety of things on it.  A good gallery wall is not your grandmother’s “rogues gallery” of school portraits. 🙂 To look current, aim for a range of sizes of frames, a range of items (not everything should be a print or photo in a frame), a range of textures and works that are both vertical and horizontal in orientation.

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Here is a little work-in-progress in the corner of our dining room. It was born of the need to camouflage the thermostat (I still dream of getting one of these, but M is not on board, alas), which stands out like a sore thumb on our newly-dark walls. I started off with the round shelf and the gold K, then added a few cards from Rifle Paper Co. and a couple of other cards I found at Indigo and framed up in IKEA frames.

The table and the candles added some interest lower down, but I knew I would need to keep my eye out for a few more pieces to complete the look.

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When I found the little figure at IKEA, I had to have him– I have always wanted to hang a series of these along a long hallway. I used my beloved 3M Command Strip to hang him on the wall. The tiny mirror was a Homesense find– it had a black frame, but a quick coat of spray paint fixed that in a hurry!

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 You can see that I still have a couple of spaces to fill (don’t worry– I have some horizontal items for those empty gaps), but things are looking better all the time. I was not happy with the corner until yesterday, when I added the large piece at the bottom; I was feeling that the stuff in the corner was too “bitty” and teensy-looking.    I love the way the larger piece balances things out and I am a BIG fan of hanging artwork low to the floor.

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More about the frame on the larger piece on Monday.
Have a great weekend!

Fine, Furry Friends

Go get a cup of tea, this could take a while.

I am not going to get into the whole fur debate here. Nor am I going to get into the fact that, as a child, I actually felt physically ill in the presence of fur (some of which feeling resurfaced this weekend when I took on a DIY project I’ve been considering for a few months now).  I will put forth that I am not proponent of NEW fur, but that I am willing to touch (and even wear!) vintage fur because I think doing so is better than throwing it out or letting it get moth-eaten. But that is not what this post is about. Instead, I am going to tell you a very not-so brief story about an item that was given to me when someone was doing a cleaning up/purge.

Here it is:

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It is, in short, the World’s Most Enormous Fur Coat.
Made of raccoon.
Vintage raccoon.
It weighed about 350 lbs. It was a size Gigantic. Seriously, a Volkswagen could have worn this coat.
It ought to have made the man who put it on (surely it was not designed for a woman?) look deliciously collegiate-football-fan-circa-1935. Alas, it made everyone, male or female, who donned it look like a pimp from the 1970s.
It was, in short, problematic. One of those items that ought to have been utterly fabulous but…. just….wasn’t.  This fact made me sad.
And I didn’t really want to believe it, so I let the coat hang in our basement for many, many years.

And then I started to think, what if I could save this coat from itself?
Would I have the nerve? Could I bring myself to do it?

Well, Gentle Reader, it took me a couple of months to work up the chutzpah to tackle it, but this past weekend, I took the plunge. After carefully removing the lining and label, I…..
cut up the coat.
Cue vomiting– this part reaaaallly made me think about the raccoons, I have to admit, and I very nearly chickened out.
Even now, just typing that makes me kinda queasy…

BUT, the the World’s Most Enormous Fur Coat, made of raccoon, vintage raccoon, has become two rather good, very cosy throw pillows on our couch.  Even M likes them! (Will wonders never cease?!)
I like that this project gave new life to the old fur; makes me feel a bit less sad about the raccoons.

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I was nervous, never having sewn with real fur before, so I looked up some tutorials online. They all required about 30 pieces of equipment, which terrified me. Also, I am the Lazy DIY-er, so there was No Way On Earth I was going to take on some complicated cushion tutorial. Thus, I did what any self-respecting Lazy DIY-er would do: I winged it. And it all worked out fine! Basically, I made two envelope-style cushion covers, the way I would do if I were using regular fabric.  No big deal. I did take three sage pieces of advice from the lengthy tutorials, so if you are planning to do similar, I recommend that you also take these tips:

1. Use a razor blade or a utility knife to cut the fur, and cut it from the back side of the pelt, being careful not to shear the fur

2. When sewing, be careful to push the fur away from the cut edge of the fur/fabric, in order to avoid stitching the ends of the fur into your seam. Just go slowly and you will be able to tuck the ends of the fur towards the middle of the cushion as you go, leaving you with a nice, furry edge when you turn the pillow right side out.

3. Keep your eye on the nap of the fur by using the bottom hem of the coat as a guide– always keep it positioned towards you so that you can be sure that both pillows have the nap going the same direction.

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What do you think? Would you save unusable fur from itself?

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.