I was in the middle of crocheting a blanket for my daughter when my husband asked if I could make a scarf for one of his Philly teams. He decided on hockey with the Flyers and their colors of black, orange and white. He even designed the scarf and asked that it be long vertical stripes, which was a bit different than I had done before with crocheting. I had to crochet the first row for the entire length of the scarf. This is the product of about a week and a half of working on it in the evening and whenever I have a free moment. I really need to learn a different stitch at some point, but I’ve been lazy with that so far, and frankly, I just like the basic stitch.
I have to say, it turned out pretty nice. They’re not my favorite colors in the world, but once the patch is sewed on it will make more sense. And he loves it, so my customer is satisfied.
I never used to have hobbies like this where I would go from project to project and never take a break. I now find it strange when I don’t have something to work on in my free time. And free time is especially difficult to come by now that I’ve started learning web design. I’d like for that to be a side business of my own and right now I am working on my first client’s site. I will post the link when I’m finished. The last thing I want is for the site to look like an amateur made it, but so far so good. WordPress has so many features and themes to choose from, the possibilities are endless.
My second project since the shutdown actually came before I built the “coat corner.” I had been looking through the pictures on the Houzz app and saw a cool bookshelf that is not what I would call a traditional design. This was the first time I’ve looked at a piece of furniture and thought that I could build it myself. However, just like with cooking, where I’ll modify every recipe I use instead of following it strictly, I seem to do the same with projects. I modified the bookshelf design to be one that I could handle with my limited knowledge of woodworking. So it is basically four horizontal boards and 8 vertical boards. The one that I made is not nearly as wide as the original, and I didn’t put little doors. They also attached the vertical boards differently.
Even with such a simple design, it took a couple of weeks to build. A few stolen minutes here or there to cut the boards, then learn how to cut the dados with the table saw that would hold the vertical pieces. After what seemed like hundreds of passes on the table saw I finally had all the pieces fitting together snugly like they are supposed to. Before the final fitting, I used a water-based stain called Varathane in espresso and the vertical pieces were primed and painted white. I was really surprised to see stain that you can clean up with soap and water. I thought there was only the kind that had to be cleaned with mineral spirits, which I despise, since it is so messy and odorous.
Since there is no back to the bookshelf the dados needed to be snug before I glued and then screwed them together. I put screws in places they wouldn’t be seen (unless you were looking at it upside down, and then I’d have to ask you, why are you doing that?), otherwise I drilled pilot holes and put in small nails if they were in places that could be seen. All in all, I’d say it turned out pretty nice.
I’m gaining confidence with each project, to the point where I think I might design all of the built-in bookshelves that will be going in to our basement when we re-model it next summer. Perhaps I will even design a new computer desk for my husband. The possibilities are endless!
It’s Christmas morning, presents have been opened and at least one child is napping, but instead of resting, my husband and I installed the “coat corner” that I built. We have this corner beside our front door which has had some Command hooks mounted on the wall which we try to jam as many coats and hats onto as possible, but it really wasn’t enough. So I was inspired by the design of a mudroom in the iPad app, Houzz, where they used wainscoting most of the way up the wall with hooks and shelves for coats and hats.
The Before Picture
I started on the project a few days ago by cutting the wood and attaching the pieces together to form a frame, then routed out the back so that I could attach the wainscoting. I did the wainscoting in 4 pieces and even lined up the grooves from the top sections to the bottom sections (NOT easy). The new skills I learned for this project were to drill pocket screws to attach the frame and to use the router. Every time I run into a situation where I need instruction, we have to pick a time when our son is not napping, then we corral both kids in the finished side of the basement with their bikes so they can ride around, and then my husband shows me a woodworking technique in our workshop. In between moments of instruction one of us has to run back and forth to the other side of the basement as someone invariably falls off their bike or runs into their sibling and the other one starts crying. It can be extremely difficult to find those moments when I can learn. Once I figure it out though, everyone else goes upstairs and I continue on my own. My husband is still learning too, since he only started remodeling projects and building furniture a couple of years ago but his skills have progressed quickly. My mother has been a woodworker for as long as I can remember so she taught him many things, and now he is teaching me.
The back of the panels
I finished building the panels shown above yesterday and then did one coat of primer. This morning we mounted them on the wall. Actually, my husband did most of the installation since I’ve found that brute strength in drilling in the drywall anchors is not my strong suit. Regardless, it is up and now I am just waiting for the caulk I put in the corners and screw holes to dry.
Installed w/ one coat of primer
In exactly 5 minutes I can put on a final coat of paint and attach the hooks. I do not have the energy to complete the final part of it though, which is to build shelves both at the top of it and halfway down for the kids’ hats and gloves. That can wait a few days…maybe. I don’t seem to have much patience with waiting when I am in the middle of a project. I want to see the finished product.
The After Photo
Update: I finished two more coats of paint and we installed all of the hooks. Now that we’ve actually loaded the hooks up with coats I can see now that there is no way I can put a shelf above the lower hooks. So there will only be one shelf above the top. For now, this will work just fine. I’ve already got some ideas for the next project but I should at least rest a bit over Christmas vacation. Just a bit. I’m sure I won’t be posting quite this often once I’ve caught up with all the crafts and projects I’ve done these last few months since the shutdown. I have one more post to write soon about the bookshelf I finished last week. But for now it is family time.
Over the last few months I’ve gotten into crocheting afghans. I think that’s partly because I’ve gotten into the habit of keeping my hands busy while sitting on the couch in front of the TV. It has to be something fairly mindless though, instead of surfing on the iPad which just takes my attention away from said TV. I used to knit them but they always seem to start to unravel or grow huge holes after a couple months of use. I bought a book on how to crochet but soon discovered that learning something like that from a book is pretty difficult. You can’t easily see where the yarn is supposed to go. I turned to youtube once again for a tutorial of a basic crochet pattern.
Crocheting is basically like tying hundreds of knots using the crochet hook so the chances of it unraveling once its all finished is zero. While you are in the midst of making it though, you can easily unravel it on purpose if you decide that you’ve done the wrong color or crocheted 20 rows and realized that you don’t like the width of what you’ve started so you unravel the entire thing and start over. I’ve done that way too many times. But at least it is possible, unlike with knitting where it is incredibly difficult to un-do what you’ve already done.
A present for my parents in the colors my mother decorates her house.
After I completed my first blanket I lasted only a few days before I had to start another one, and then another one. I might just be a little crazy. Don’t judge, I like to keep busy. Now that I just finished Christmas presents in the form of afghans for my parents and my brother I made need to start on a new one for my daughter soon. She had originally requested pink and purple but apparently pink is on the outs with her so now it will just be purple.
I’ve thought of selling them on Etsy when I run out of people I know who might possibly need a blanket. I suppose I could learn other stitches instead of just the basic one, but why mess with perfection?
I had an unexpected 2 week “vacation” as a result of the government shutdown. I was home all by myself while the kids and my husband were at work and school and I had to decide how I was going to spend my time. I hadn’t had time off like that in awhile, so I very well could have spent it in my PJs in front of the TV as there are numerous shows I would love to catch up on. But on day 2 I had a moment of inspiration as I looked at all of the unfinished windows around our house.
We had put an addition on our house about 4 years ago which included new windows. We had planned to do a lot of the finish work ourselves such as the baseboards and the framing of the windows. My husband had been working on the baseboards whenever he had time, but the windows were at the bottom of our list of priorities, and that list is very long. Seeing the rough drywall edges around the windows always bothered me and made me feel like the interior is incomplete.
My mother has always been very talented when it comes to woodworking, but I always maintained that I didn’t inherit that gene and I never had any interest in learning the skill. However, during the shutdown I decided to call her to come over and show me how its done. I did all of the measuring around the windows at least twice and had a plan as to how much wood I thought I needed. She helped me pick out the wood at home depot and bring it home. We went with pine boards in six inch widths and standard window trim. That day I learned how to rip the boards on the table saw, which is to cut them longways to get the correct width and then cut them to length on the chop saw. We even managed to find the energy to review a youtube video one last time and then frame one window before we collapsed.
One of the first windows we framed around the interior and then installed trim around the edge.
I’m quite sure a professional would have had several windows done in the amount of time it took us to do one, but it was a learning process for me. We weren’t able to drag the air compressor up the stairs from the basement so I ended up drilling pilot holes and nailing in the pieces we had cut. When that first window was finished, I felt very proud. The next morning I had another entire window framed before my mother even came over to help. I had my husband carry up the compressor before he left for work so that day we had the nail gun that she helped me set up and that made the whole installation process much quicker. In just a couple of days I had framed 8 windows.
Some of our windows were already framed by Pella but during the shutdown I painted all 8 windows that I framed as well as 7 more that Pella had installed 5 years ago.
Once the windows were all framed, next I had to sand them and paint them each with 2-3 coats of white paint. They looked fantastic when they were done. My very next thought when that project was completed was: what project is next? I had found an undiscovered talent/interest and now I could finally do things for myself instead of waiting for someone to have to time to do them for me.