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March 31

Itching to Sew

I haven’t sewn one single stitch since last November.  With spring nearing, I’m really itching to sew something new.

But what’s a girl to do when her house is in complete disarray??

To add insult to injury, I’m meeting up with several Chicago gals for a fabric shopping expedition this coming Sunday.  And you just know i’m going to be majorly tempted to purchase some new fabric.  (I do have a group-on for it after all).

Perhaps this is a good excuse to visit some of my fellow local seaming buddies for a sew-along in a shared space.  (Meg or Michelle or Tasha or Mari I’m lookin’ at you.)  :)

Any other thoughts for setting up a sewing station in a house full of debris, on-going demo, and dust?  Because something has to be done to quench my lust for sewing a pretty new spring dress or blouse – asap.

March 26

Bathroom Hardware Advice Needed

Sorry for all of the radio silence on here.  I’m kinda back…

Felix and I have been hard at work on our house which has sucked up all of my free time in conjunction with packing up for the official move.

We moved into our house this past Thursday and I’ve been working to set it up, to be a livable house, while we continue to work on it.  :)

I finished unpacking our stuff this weekend – and when I say unpacked, I mean I’ve unpacked only a small proportion of our stuff.  In order to work on the house while we live there, we’re living with the essentials only.  But you can be sure I have my knitting and sewing boxes somewhere separate so I can get at it when the mood strikes.

Anyhow…

After unpacking (all) of my bathroom items, I realize I need some more essentials: toothbrush holder, toilet paper holder, and a hand towel rack (just for now).

I’ve always been of the mindset that I should save my money and purchase what I want the first time around, instead of buying something *less ideal* only to purchase the item again, but the one I really want.  I figure I save some money this way even though what I generally want is more expensive.

My house was built in 1885 and it does have some old architectural details still remaining, but the vast majority have been removed over time.  Felix and I are hard at work restoring and repairing it…  One of which is the bathroom.

The downstairs bathroom will be a half-bath (toilet & sink combo), while the upstairs is our official bathroom where we shower and get ready each morning.  Eventually we will be updating this bathroom too, but $$ is being focused on the kitchen first.

The long and short of it is… I’m not sure which bathroom hardware to choose for the upstairs vs. downstairs.

Should the upstairs bathroom be more casual, while the downstairs bathroom is the formal one?

I love each of these bathroom sets from Rejuvination:

Pittock:

This is a 1880′s repro; it’s the more formal of my two choices for bathroom hardware.  It seems pretty period with the house and I love all of the options that come along with it.

It’s hard to see the actual hardware here, but here is a detail of the towel holder:

And here is Chandler:

This is my 1940′s dreams come to life.  It’s the more casual of the two choices and is less period to the house, although it will still work fine and this is what I feel like I’ve been dreaming of.

Realistically, I do have a win-win scenario.  I’m planning on purchasing both of these no matter what.  What I have to decide is which goes upstairs and which goes downstairs.

I like that the Pittock has more options with it as far as towel racks go, which would be good for the upstairs.  But… I kinda feel like the more casual set should be going upstairs instead.

Anyone have any thoughts or advice to share on this?  I need some help before I take the plunge with this purchase since these are pretty pricey items.

On that note… anyone know of any other sites with similar reproduction hardware???

March 4

Home Renovations: WIP’s & more Plans

While I’ve been stripping woodwork (with my mom) Felix and my step-dad Bob have been working in the basement since November in order to make our house livable.

The furnace that was in the basement wasn’t installed properly which meant a lot of things have had to happen to correct this issue.

The first thing that Bob and Felix did was to remove all of the old duct work on the first floor.  This means no heat in the house.

It was right around thanksgiving when the furnace was disconnected and it wasn’t able to be reconnected until right after Christmas.  There were a lot of reasons for this… but again it’s too much detail to get into on here.

During this whole time our house had no heat so I wasn’t able to work on the first floor (with the stripping).  The guys worked in the basement with the aid of fuel-burning space heater, luckily.  And in the rest of the house we had electric space heaters strategically placed so that our pipes wouldn’t freeze up in the freezing temps.

After removing all most all of the junk & disconnecting old lines, the guys cleaned & painted the basement:

New gas lines were/are being installed:

Not very fun photos, but here’s more new gas lines:

Vine Video of the gas pipes being cut.

Bob has a pipe threader… because why wouldn’t he?  heh

Concrete has been poured for bases to set the new furnace & hot water heater on:

But rebar had to be cut first in order to support the concrete: 

Rebar framed & laid in place:

Of course my dad has a concrete mixer for all of this: 

And they’ve done lots of other things too…

What’s all quite new to me is the steps involved in order to do any one task. Pouring concrete for example.  It’s not just pouring concrete but you have to 1.) Frame the space you want to pour it in 2.) Make sure your framing is level 3.) Cut rebar to support the concrete area (given it’s large enough) 4.)urchase the concrete (each bag is 80 lbs and we needed several bags) 5.)Mix & Pour concrete – let sit then 6.)Seal concrete after it’s set.  I’m probably missing things but that took several evenings and a weekend to do & it’s just concrete.

I know things take time, but I continue to underestimate the work involved for ALL of this.  When I talk with people, I’m always saying “We knew what we were getting into… but we didn’t quite know what we were getting into.”

We knew this was an old house that needed renovating, but now that we’re working on it – the scope has changed and we’re beginning to fully understand the amount of effort & time that goes into making livable & lovely houses.  It’s a lot.

After everything we have planned – I’m honestly hoping that in a year’s time we can live on the second floor – as opposed to the first floor living room that we will be soon moving into as our bedroom/living room/home office all in one.

‘Small’ list of plans we’ve made:

  • Complete kitchen overhaul – including new appliances & relocating the backdoor & window
  • Re-pipe all water pipes to second floor & kitchen
  • New electrical service to & inside the house
  • Walls removed & walls rebuilt
  • Continue to strip & refinish all wood on 1st floor
  • Strip walls down to the plaster on the 1st floor (which means removing the painted over-wallpaper)
  • Refinish floors
  • Loft the 2nd floor’s front (joint office/sewing room)

It’s a lot.  But we have the end to spur us on and I know it’s going to be amazing once it’s all said and done.  Now to get there….

February 4

Home Renovations: Things Going Awry

Last Sunday I arrived at my house shortly after my parents did and started putting a few groceries away.  That’s when I heard it… a small *drip drip drip* at the corner of my kitchen.

I saw water pooling on the counter top and on the floor, which seemed to be originating out of the top most cabinet door.

I yelled frantically for Bob to come upstairs (from the basement).  He checked the second floor bathroom (above the drips of water) and then checked the basement – with no insight as to why this was happening.

We turned off the water to the house in attempt to stop the leak.

Then Felix and I proceeded to stand in horror as we watched my step dad ripping into my upper cabinets, kitchen ceiling & upper floor joist to locate the source of the leak.

I nearly cried.  My home was being ripped into in order to find the location of the leak.

In this corner alone, there was so much debris from the small demo corner!  It was like 4″ high of rubble on the counter and we filled the garbage can twice with wood pieces & plaster.  I was not prepared for this either – I can’t even fathom how much debris is going to be creating by demo-ing the whole kitchen ceiling.

Here’s a vine video of the demo and a second of some debris.

A few things did come of this – which was good to find out now rather than later:

  • Two ceilings were installed.
    • The original plaster and lathe is in quite bad condition but instead of someone ripping it out like they should have, they just added another ceiling on top of the old one.
  • The upper cabinets aren’t actually cabinets but ply wood pieced together – horribly -to look like pseudo cabinets.  They need to be ripped out, but we will retain the original cabinet doors, as those are actually cabinet doors.
  • The floor joist under the bathroom is completely rotted out & has been sustaining water damage for years.  This now needs to be addressed and rebuilt.
    • With rotted joists, how have I not been falling through the floor?!  Let’s table that for now…
After the preliminary demolition, the leak stopped.  We turned on the water to the house and no more leak.  We ran the sink, flushed the toilet – but no more leaking.
BUT… the water to the bath/shower stopped working.  Entirely!  There is now no water flowing into the bathtub/shower.
Fun.

Solution: 

Since the pipes aren’t really the best, we’ve decided to abandon the old pipes and add new copper pipes instead for the second floor plumbing.  It’s not worth my dad’s time to actually hunt down the leak and fix it since the pipes are just ‘so so’.
I failed to mention… the bathroom in our house was supposedly refinished in 2009.  It now seems like they only added a nice facade to cover up all of the issues – leaking pipes, horrible ceiling, & rotted floor joists.
*OMG* Yes… I freaked out a bit and started asking myself “Did I just buy a horrible, not-worth-it house?!”
After talking more with my dad and also with Felix, I calmed down.  But yeah… this is more work (and a bit more $$$) than we were planning on doing.
I just really hope that nothing else huge has to happen as I don’t think I can handle any more.  :|  Felix and I knew this was always going to be an adventure, but now we’re joking that this is a crazy adventure.
Please… wish me luck.  Any of you have any crazy house stories you’d like to share to calm my frazzled nerves.
January 30

Home Renovations: Paint Stripping

Last time I gabbed about my new house it was all – look at these pretty kitchen inspiration images.  But things have changed quite dramatically on the house renovation front and I have much to report.

Since I have so much to share for just one post, I’m only going to touch upon what I’ve been working on the past few weeks (aka couple months).

I’ve been stripping woodwork:

Stripping woodwork:

Stripping more woodwork:

(Outside looking in.)

And look… my mom has also come to help me strip woodwork:

And guess what I’m planning on doing this coming weekend?  Stripping woodwork would be an excellent guess.

Back Story:

Pretty soon after we bought the house, my mom and I spent a day cleaning out the (creepy) attic.  Once we were done, my mom went downstairs to *just see* what kind of woodwork we had underneath all 4 layers of paint.  I had some stripping supplies at the house and she removed a section of paint from our pocket doors to reveal we had southern yellow pine.

For all of you peeps reading here’s a mini history lesson for you on wood… Southern yellow pine was used quite often back in the day – until we ran out of it in the US.  We used it so much it was all gone.  Between then and now, some great people in Georgia decided to plant some more trees for me.  But it’s only available in Atlanta, and they don’t ship anywhere.  It’s precious wood for us vintage homeowners – so removing it and tossing it into a landfill was just not an option.

Once my mom saw I have southern yellow pine in our house, she made an executive decision and we are now stripping my entire first floor’s painted wood surface to reveal the lovely wood that it is.

One of my handy skills is that I do know how to strip and refinish woodwork.  The (now) old school way is to use chemical stripper and apply it – wait for 20 mins or so – and then strip it off along with as much paint as you can get.  Apply & Repeat.

For my woodwork, this was a three-time or a four-time application of the stripper.

This is manual labor & takes time and patience.  I’d say in an evening’s worth of work with the chemical stripper I’d get about 12-18 inches of wood stripped.  It took me an entire 14 hr working weekend to do the perimeter of a window (not even the interior sections) with the chemical stripper.

Window is now completed, but this is my victory (aka defeated) pic since this window took so long:

But… I have now learnt the NEW way to strip wood and let me tell you it’s amazing!  It’s called  Infrared Heat stripping.

Apparently this is THE way to strip woodwork quickly.  (This video sold me.)

How IR Paint Stripping Works:

You hold the heating element over your woodwork and allow the heat to melt & release itself from the varnish that is underneath it all.  After that you can strip all layers of paint right off the wood & only need to apply 1 layer of chemical stripper to get the stain and varnish off.

The one caveat with this is that there should be a layer of varnish on your woodwork underneath the paint otherwise the paint won’t be peeling off quite as easily – more rough scraping is required & more chemical stripper after the fact.

Where I generally get 12″ done in 3 hours, I can now get 48″-60″ done in the same amount of time (not including the varnish chemical stripper portion).  Once I got on a rhythm with this new paint removal process & had my mom to help me last weekend, I can now say I’m at least 1/2 way done 3/4′s of the way done with the dining room.

This built in bookcase unit in the corner was my first Infrared Paint Stripping test section and the bottom of the door on the right wall was done with the IR heating gun also – done much better than the test section.

The more often my mom (or Felix) has come to the house to help me work on the woodwork, the more we’ve been progressing at an every speedier pace – well… comparatively speedy than if we were just using the chemical stripper for everything.

I don’t want to jinx myself, but I feel like we’re nearly done with the woodwork in the dining room; two more full weekends and I think we’ll be done!

Paint stripping is just ONE of the projects we’ve been tackling since early November.  I’ve been stripping woodwork while Felix has been working with my step-dad Bob on all things heating, gas lines & general infrastructure to the house.  Much much more to come.

FYI: I’ve been better at taking quick instagram photos of the house when I work if you want to follow me to see more.

January 17

Pattern Freebie: Warm Wool “Next-to-Nothings”

I’m back with a Stitchcraft freebie for you all.  This pattern comes from the No. 4o edition of Stitchcraft from December 1935.

Click on the following link to download the pattern as a pdf: Next to Nothings Pattern.

Click on the following link to add this pattern via Ravelry.

I know not many of you guys are probably dreaming of making knit pajamas or undergarments like you are of more practical items.  But when I came across this pattern last night I just had to share it.  I think it’s so sweet and feminine that one of you will want to knit this up.  I mean – I bet this would totally keep you warm in the winter months either worn as pajamas or even worn under your winter dresses.

Pattern Details:

These Next-to-Nothings is a two piece set: a vest (camisole) and panties (shorts).

The camisole is drafted for a 34-36 inch bust – but could easily be modified by adding additional stitches where they’re needed.  Using US size 3′s (vintage No. 10′s) the tension is 7 stitches to an inch over stockinette.

Honestly guys, I couldn’t find any information on what weight of yarn the Halcyon 2-ply yarn is.  There is a modern Halcyon yarn that is a sport weight 2-ply – but that’s all I could find.  If you wanted to knit this up, I just suggest you begin with a sport weight yarn to test out your gauge swatch and go from there.

One thing that I found when reading through the pattern is that the camisole pattern is much longer than it appears in the image.  The bottom ribbing of the camisole is actually the waist section.  Below that waist ribbing there is a bit over 100 rows (at least 115 rows) which is quite significant.  If I were to knit this up as a modern camisole with the vintage styling – I would be greatly reduce the rows below the waist.

Hope you all have a great weekend & happy knitting.

January 13

Top 5 of 2013

How good it feels to be sitting down at my computer, blogging again.

I’ve had such a busy December and then I started the new year by being sick.  Ugh!  I posted my favorites from 2012 and I wanted to recap what I achieved last year and set some goals for the upcoming one.

Looking back over things, it’s quite apparent that I was much more productive (sewing & knitting – wise) in the first half of the year.  And wrapping up loose ends was the name of the game in 2013.  There were several projects I’ve had in the works for quite a while and in 2013 I nearly finished them all up… nearly.

My first wonderful, sewing feat was completing my Macaron Redux dress:

This dress is my first delve into couture, as the entirety of it is nearly all hand stitched and it has underlinings, linings, etc. galore.  To date, this is the most challenging and rewarding dress in my closet that I’ve made.

While I don’t wear this jumper often, this green bobble jumper is one of my favorite knits of 2013:

I’m a sucker for this wonderful grassy green color, but every time I wear this knit it makes me happy.  I’m happy with the fit, the wonderful 30′s design of it and who knew I would cease to hate bobble after knitting this up?!  heh

One of the most simple to sew tops is tops in my wardrobe:  (heh did you see what I did there?? )

My birdy blouse is a top I have to keep myself from reaching to week after week – I love it that much.  Perhaps it’s the embroidered blue bird or perhaps it’s because I used a 3-ply silk crepe, but I really had to hold myself back from making this top in every color of the rainbow.

Another long-time coming project is my Aqua Waves jumper:

This was another WIP that I finally got completed in 2013.  The third time was the charm for the sleeves and doing them so many times taught me the correct way (and ratio) to pick up stitches.

Last but not least is my (crazy button) Navy Hawthorn dress:

I think my fabric was cheaper than purchasing all of these buttons, but I love this dress.  I had an image of what I wanted to create and I was able to pull it off which is the best feeling ever.  After sewing for a couple of years now, I feel much more equipped and knowledgeable to be able to make my ideas take shape.  I’m rather looking forward to what I’m going to cook up next for my closet in 2014.  :)

On a more personal note, these are two major highlights that happened last year.

I bought a freakin’ house with my wonderful husband Felix!!!

It still doesn’t really feel real yet.  Perhaps it’s because I have yet to move into it… heh  But that’s for another post.  We’re working on the house weekly (if not daily) and it feels good to be making some progress on it, bit by bit.

After a very sad loss of Baxter in the early summer, we welcomed the addition of Phineas who has already filled me with more hours of joy than I can count.

This little bun is so fun and he’s the best new addition to the house that I could have hoped for.  While I’ll always miss my sweet & sassy Baxter… Phineas is quickly turning into my Phineas.

On the agenda for 2014:

Well… for starters, I’m hoping to actually get some sewing done.  I haven’t been able to sew a stitch since umm… October.  I’ve been knitting away, but I’m really starting to miss not being able to sew something.

I’m looking forward to moving into our house and continuing that adventure.  So beyond this, I sadly don’t have any firm plans.  You’ll just have to wait and see what I come up with.  :D

Cheers & hope you all had a lovely Holiday and New Years.  Here’s to 2014!

December 9

Completed: The Ingenue Sweater

I’ve been knitting up a storm this fall/winter and have completed a (very speedy sweater) called Ingenue.

It’s a fairly basic raglan sleeved sweater, constructed top down & knit in the round.

Generally, when I get bored or when I get to a hard part of a project – I loose patience and wander off to a second project.  But not this time!  What kept me on track with knitting & completing this sweater was Megan & Michelle – my two new knitting buddies.

Michelle, a seasoned knitter (right) and Meg, a newbie knitter (middle) teamed up to make the Catherine wrap sweater in October.  When they embarked on their second team project, they invited me to join along and I couldn’t be more stoked to join in the fun.

We met just about every Monday evening in November (as schedules allowed) had some yummy tea and knit together.  Instead of just having one start date and another end date, we had weekly ‘homework assignments’ and by each Monday night session we were more or less in the same place on our sweaters.  It was wonderful working together this way.  No one was left behind and it really kept us on task, start to finish.

When I have to frog a given section and reknit – I have a bad habit of wandering away from the project.  I had to rip out one of my sleeves and reknit it a bit smaller, as mine was too large near the shoulder (still kinda is – but no matter).

During this time, I cast on for my Victory Beret pattern and started knitting that instead.

But… the completion deadline was nearing and it made me get back on task with Ingenue and complete it once and for all.  If I didn’t have this team to knit with who knows where the lovely Ingenue sweater would be right now!

Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.

Ingenue has been on my knit list for a while now.  To me, this feels like a classic Audrey Hepburn sweater – a similar style you’d see in A Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

I’m not one for knitting in neutral colors, but this ivory sweater is going to fill a great gap in my winter wardrobe.  Not to mention how great of a lounge sweater this is for cold evenings at home.

The neckline is my favorite aspect of this sweater.

The collar is folded down and stitched on the inside, so the neckline is very stable and upright.

Like I said earlier, this was such a speedy knit.  I’m used to knitting with fingering weight yarn – so switching to worsted weight made everything go so quickly.

Speaking of yarn… I used Berocco Ultra alpaca yarn (50% wool, 50% alpaca) since I wanted a more drapey knit sweater.  I swatched like a good knitter and I was 100% on gauge when I used a US size 7 knitting needle.  But…. I ended up having to knit my sweater with 4″ negative ease – and yet it appears to be 0″ and in some instances positive ease.  All I can say is, I did want a loose, drapey knit so I’m quite happy with the outcome despite the ease difference.

Enough pictures of me… look at these two lovely gals.

Michelle:

Michelle also used an alpaca-wool mix yarn, but her fit is wonderfully spot on.  It’s like custom made or something?!  heh

Meg the Grand:

Meg used a very dense wool-alpaca blend to great effect.

And lastly…  None of these images would have been possible without Felix and Mike:

Knitting is a wonderful craft – but it does become so much more fun when knitting with some fun gal pals.  :)

If you’d like to see more, I have the rest of the images up on flickr and some on my Ravelry page.  Be sure to also check out Meg’s Ingenue post and Michelle’s Ingenue post for more fun reading.

December 6

Pattern Freebie: Lacy Bolero

Today’s freebie pattern comes from the Bestway leaflet No. 856 – which was ‘donated’ to me by the lovely Anne.  While there is no publication date on the leaflet, the interweb sources seem to think this is from the late 1930′s.

Click on the following link to download the free pdf: Bestway’s Lacy Bolero Pattern.

Click the following link to add this pattern to your Ravelry Queue/Favorites.

I’m not sure about you guys, but I love the delicate and feminine lounge wear ladies used to wear back in the day, mostly those flowy pajamas and bathrobe sets.  Even though this Bolero is made for going out, I think it would be wonderful in long sleeves for around the house lounging.

Pattern Details:

This bolero is constructed for a 35″ bust.  But since there is minimal NO shaping from the waist to the armhole shaping, you could easily add the additional stitches you need to make the width fit comfortably (taking note of the lace pattern stitch count).

This bolero is knit using US No. 1′s and US No. 2′s (or 3′s – depending on your source) and the gauge is 7 sts to an inch and 11 rows to an inch with a light fingering weight yarn.  Normally I’d say that the gauge is done using stockinette – but I can’t say that’s the case here.  Since there are 7 sts to an inch using light fingering yarn with US 2′s (or US 3′s) I’m assuming this is based on the lacy pattern.

I hope you love this pattern & as always – let me know if you’d like to see something specific and I can hunt in my pattern stash for you guys.

Have a great weekend!

December 3

Knitting for (Fair Isle) Victory

After (sadly) being too busy to participate in Rochelle’s Sew for Victory this past Spring so I had to redeem myself when I discovered that Tasha had launched a Knit for Victory this autumn/winter.  Not to mention – all I seem to be doing these days is knitting and working on the new house.

What am I knitting for the challenge??  Well… it’s Ms. ByGumByGolly’s own pattern: The Victory Beret.

-which is modeled by the lovely Rochelle.

I went and bought the same yarn for the beret that the pattern indicated, but I changed one color (the Nile Green to the French Rose).  I had all intentions of making mine using red as the main color, but once I got the yarn in the mail, blue felt like it was the way to go instead.

*Yellow isn’t this yellow, Red isn’t this red*

The red yarn by Excelana isn’t a true red (not in my dye lot anyhow) but was more of a rusty, brownish red.  It looked antiqued, and not as bright as I’d hoped.  I was a bit sad about this, but the blue…. oh the blue is so pretty in person.  It’s just a gem of a color – so I hope it makes my eyes pop a bit more blue rather than the light grey-blue (& sometimes green) that they are.

So… here at Zilredloh I’m now, officially, knitting a fair isle project.  I post up lots of fun fair isle patterns, but never have I actually chatted about fair isle here on my blog.

Fair Isle:

Generally I just dive right into a new technique – full steam ahead.  But for some reason Fair Isle knitting has left me weak in the knees.  Perhaps it’s all of those floats in the back or perhaps it’s the even tension while switching out yarns every few stitches… aaak getting nervous just talking about it.

The silliest part of all of this is that I’ve knit fair isle before!  Heh

Want to see?!?

I knit half of this vest 3 years ago.  (It’s been sleeping in my closet for a while…)  But I have NO IDEA how I was able to knit this so evenly and pretty on the first go with no practice.  I didn’t even swatch before I started it!  The horrors!!!

I didn’t do any reading on the subject of fair isle – I just chatted with a coworker/knitting buddy here at my office about it and watched a youtube video on wrapping yarns (which I’ve since forgotten how to do).

I’m pretty certain I’ve built up stranded knitting into something bigger than it is.  I figured the best remedy is to just dive right back in the deep end with the Victory Beret and hope all goes well.  I mean… really it has to go well since I was able to knit this style once before.  Right???

After the Victory Beret, I’m hoping I have enough confidence built up to tackle the rest of my fair isle vest which I’ve wanted to complete for some time now.

My Swatch:

Soo happy I swatched for this pattern!  My tension is generally 8 sts per inch with US size 2.5′s and using the new Excelana yarn – it’s all off.  I swatched in the round and had all sorts of crazy yarns in the back of my work – but I learnt I have to size down to 1′s to get gauge when I work fair isle & in the round with Excelana.

I officially cast on for the beret this morning and have started the ribbing section.

Wish me luck, guys!

I totally encourage any of you knitting newbies who are too afraid to knit in fair isle to come join me in the deep end.  It’s the perfect starter project and we can knit it together – right along with Tasha who’s going to hold our hands.

(The deadline is Dec. 31st, so there’s still plenty of time to join in!)