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. 😉

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?

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?

Friday Eye-Candy

Here is a look I am really loving these days– clean white with vintage elements, including pops of colour from antique and vintage textiles like kilims and suzanis.
Gone are my monochromatic palette days, it would seem…

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Have a great weekend!

(ps– how about that amazing herringbone floor in the bottom image? Perfection, non?)

Let’s Go Shopping

…for my imaginary London pied a terre!
Of course it’s in a light-filled Hampstead garret– a bit out of the way, but worth it for the character of the ‘hood.
And I can always hop on the overground and travel a few stops to visit  LHR, Graphic Definer & Russell at Dalston Abbey.

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1. This sofa is Absolutely Perfect.
2. There is a reason this side table is ubiquitous– it looks great and the price is right!
(This one is pretty darned gorgeous, too. Perhaps I’ll take one of each!)
3. This fabric would make gorgeous toss cushions.
It’s from LHR’s friend D’s new shop, Fabricspark.
Check out her pretty, pretty fabrics– you won’t be sorry!

Heads Up!

I hope you had a lovely Christmas, if that is what you celebrate. If not, I hope you had a nice few days off to rest and relax. We had a wonderful day with family, following a few days of the warm company of our dearest friends, LHR and GraphicDefiner.

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In addition to all the regular festive preparations, we were also pretty darned busy getting Delovely HQ in ship-shape for the arrival of all our guests. The weekend prior to their arrival, the Mr and I spent some quality time with power tools and paint brushes, sprucing up the master bedroom. Not that anyone besides us stays in there, but it is the first thing one sees upon climbing the stairs, so I wanted it to look nice.

So, let’s begin, shall we? First, I had to paint and repair my groovy faux taxidermy bargains. (As you know, often a bargain comes with the caveat that the item is damaged.) You’ve already had a sneak peek at the golden ibex makeover, but here is how I went about fixing the hole-y ram’s horn.

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First, I looked around to see what I supplies I had on-hand
& then I worked a bit of plastic (haha!) surgery magic:

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Using the glue as a kind of shellac/glue hybrid, I pasted a scrap of cotton fabric over the hole. The topcoat of glue helped to seal the hole and to allow the fabric to harden into a paintable surface. I made sure to use cotton so that the glue would saturate it nicely and so that the fabric was soft enough to be worked into the grooves in the horn. I let it dry overnight, sprayed it with some primer and then painted it up with my beloved Blackberry Punch.

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In the meantime, our new bed had created a bit of a wrinkle in Operation Master Bedroom Spruce-Up: the colour of the bed, while grey, is a much blue-er grey than the warm grey on the walls. The result? Jarring and kinda hideous. Suddenly, I found myself faced with having to repaint the bedroom. Le sigh.

Off I trotted to get some sample pots. I painted big swatches of each colour on each wall of our bedroom; I wanted to make sure that I could see how each one “read” in the changing light throughout the day, and to make sure that I got a sense of those changes from every angle. One of the things I loved best about our former paint colour was how it shifted and altered as the light in the room changed over the course of the day.

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Paint Colour Swatches:
1. Dark Pewter
2. Pewter
3. Downpour
4. Chinchilla
5. French Silver

We lived with enormous splotches of 5 different paint colours on our walls for weeks before I finally committed to Chinchilla, by Martha Stewart. Um, yes, that is the colour that appears to be invisible in the photos… Ahem. My favourite colour was actually Down Pipe, but both the Mr and I were concerned that it might make the room too dark– we both love our sunny southern exposure. Chinchilla is very similar to our former shade, Mount Rainier by the now-defunct Ralph Lauren line of paint, but it is bluer. I don’t love it the way I loved the former shade (I fear it makes our trim and dressers look too yellow… hello, decor snowball…), but it does look good with the bed. 🙂

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The little guy is sporting a nod to Christmas decor.

I will post a proper tour of Operation Master Bedroom Spruce-Up once we have a day sunny enough for me to take some quasi-decent photos. I’d like you to see the whole effect, from antique French sconce-supports to new dhurrie rug, to new bedding. But for now, I hope you like this little glimpse of the faux taxidermy and the cute print (by local lovely, Steph Sterjovski!) I picked up to go with the “heads.”

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Roses Are Red

 … and pink and white and orange and…

One of the spur-of-the-moment projects I found myself taking on this weekend was a make over of our china cabinet. We got this piece on sale about 15 years ago and it is wonky and endearing and I love it. We use it every day, as our dishes live in it (because our kitchen lacks space for them), but I suddenly thought it could use a little brightening up. And I wanted to use fabric, not paint, to do the job….

Useful, but ready for a facelift.

Useful, but ready for a facelift.

In the end, I remembered Elsie’s shelves and thought, “Hey! I could do that!”  I decided to paint part and “upholster” part of the cabinet’s interior. So I grabbed my (you guessed it) Annie Sloan Old White and painted up the shelves and interior sides of the cabinet. I wanted to use leftover ikat from the office, but didn’t have enough, so I had to find something suitable and suitably cheap to use for the fabric lining.

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I found a Ted Baker-inspired print chiffon scarf at H&M and knew it would look great on the back wall of the cabinet. I used a decoupage product that promised not to be sticky or to require a top coat (because that extra step seemed like the kind of thing I’d rather not have to do…)  and it worked pretty well, once I got the hang of it.  Working on a vertical surface made it a bit tricky, but once I figured out I had to work in tiny “slices,” rather than slathering the whole surface at once, things went more smoothly. The task was easy, but a pain in the backside, so only tackle it if you are feeling patient.

Best of all? The fabric can be easily removed if (who are we kidding? WHEN) I change my mind!

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I like the way the vintage china and glassware really pops against the new interior.

Work it!

Remember the Office Inspiration post? Well, here are (most of) the details from the (very nearly) finished office.

I needed to update all the storage & organization bits in the room, but did not want to invest in all new boxes, files and bins.  I decided the solution was to give our existing ones a facelift with the help of some fabric and some paint.

I wanted gold accents, so I had to find a way to take the trim on our Ikea storage boxes & magazine files from silver to gold. Removing the hardware and painting, then replacing it was not an option; the boxes would not have survived the surgery.

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Some of the boxes were black, so I sprayed the silver trim gold & then went in with an artist’s brush and some white paint to cover the black/gold-overspray. I do not recommend this if you are in a hurry. It took FOREVER! Lesson learned: spray prime entire surface first, then do gold spray on hardware, then paint. I rushed right in with the gold paint and then the white paint = I needed about 6 coats of fiddly, artist-brush painting to cover the dark lids. Sigh. Learn from my haste, Interwebz.

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For boxes whose lids got a paint job, I covered the bases in one of two fabrics. I just cut a strip of fabric a couple of inches wider than the height of the box and long enough to wrap all the way around. I used a combination of spray adhesive and glue-gun action to adhere the fabric to the boxes. Then I re-attached the newly-gold outer label hardware and ta-da!

Some of the boxes were already white, so I just sprayed the label hardware gold and covered the lids in fabric. Using spray adhesive and hot glue, I pretty much just wrapped the lids like they were presents.
That will never be opened.
Because they are glued shut.

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I found some cute file folders at Target in the $1 bins (woot!)– they are a natural colour and have metallic designs on them, so they look cute with the new accents in the room.  Now to find the time to reorganize our file drawers. (The entire contents of our filing system may have fallen down the stairs in a moving incident during the floor refinishing bonanza…. We may have just shoved the files back in the drawers any old which way because we were tired and highly cranky….)

I also re-jigged the magnetic bulletin board I made a few years back, covering the board with fabric and painting the frame Blackberry Punch (after trying three different versions of gold…). I sprayed the little clothespin magnets gold, too. I sprayed a woven box and a few Ikea tea-light holders gold to keep storage looking pretty and to keep pens, pencils, letter-opener, etc. accessible.

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I invested in new frames for the gallery wall because I wanted white ones and the images in the frames all came out of mis-matched, random frames. I did paint the one on the lower right side, next to the M. I love the way the white frames look so crisp against the dark wall. It makes me happy every time I see it!

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I took a West Elm dip-dye curtain (that I snagged from the sale section for $14!) and, since I wanted a horizontal, rather than a vertical dip, I cut the curtain in half and, using some inexpensive white muslin ($3 a yard), made two curtains with simple rod pockets at the top.

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Finally, I decided to embrace the whole, “colour code your books” trend. This is the cheapest update you can think of: it’s free! You do need to invest some time, but it took me less time than I thought it would. I’m still a bit on the fence about it– sure, it looks great, but I’m not sure I can FIND my books…. My previous system was a “by topic” system, so I could easily find any book at a glance. Now, I have to know what colour the book’s spine is… I’m pretty visual, but I’m still not convinced that this is the most sensible way to file stuff.

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Once my Serena and Lily round rattan rug arrives and I find the perfect ceiling light fixture, the room will be done! Yay!

Bette Davis Eyes

I have been wanting to show you our new office for a while now, but we still have a teensy-tiny way to go before we are finished.

So, in the mean time, I thought I’d just tease you a bit with a few previews.

First, I found this humungous, oh-so-pretty basket at Homesense. And I said to myself, “Self,” [I said] “You need to have that as your recycling basket for the office.”

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And, just like that, a makeover was born.
Like Venus rising from the ocean, the vision came, fully-formed, to mind.
Nearly-black navy walls;

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crisp white trim;  dip-dye,  some ikat & some pom poms,

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…maybe a chevron or two, antique gold & natural rattan accents…..I could not wait to get this room jeujed up!

Have a great weekend, everyone.