New Kitchen

If you know me in the real/offline world – you will know that I spent a LOT of time last year renovating our kitchen!

I’m rubbish at remembering to take ‘before’ photos when I’m decorating… but I thought you might be interested in seeing some ‘mid-decor & after’ photos!

We decided to get the experts in to do a few jobs. They fitted new worktops to replace the old green speckly laminate, plumbed in a new stainless steel sink, hung a new door, replaced the old tiles and tiled the back of the chimney breast arch.

The arch is my favourite bit! It looks lovely and it’s really practical having tiles there because it’s where we do all our chopping and food prep.

I added some shelves so that I can keep my cook-books in the kitchen and free up space elsewhere. I love these brackets from B&Q which double up as bookends and the shelves are made of wood from old palettes which I sanded down and waxed.

I painted the walls, ceiling, woodwork and radiator in Farrow & Ball Ammonite. It’s a warm off white, which looks almost grey in some lights and beige in others. It’s really brightened up the room and made it feel bigger.

We kept the same cupboards, and the doors look fabulous in their new shade of Farrow & Ball Inchyra Blue. I also painted the shiny silver door knobs black using Hammerite metal paint (which worked out cheaper than replacing them all).

I still don’t quite feel like it’s our kitchen! It was well worth the many hours of sanding and re-coating the cupboard doors. It feels like a proper kitchen!

Pallet Shelves

Project house re-juj is in full swing! We had glorious weather over the Easter weekend so I finished waxing our new cabinet and built some shelves in the sunshine.

After taking apart an old pallet I acquired from my neighbour, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the wood and how lovely it looked when sanded down and waxed. I decided it would be perfect for some shelving in our utility room.

I’m rubbish at taking photos while I’m doing DIY. Partly because my hands are messy, but mostly because I’m having too much fun and I forget! So I did a lot in between the last and the next photo…

There was a fair amount of making it up as I went along, but I worked out the size beforehand based on what we would be keeping on the shelves, the space we have and also the lengths of the planks. I even used my set square!

I made the top shelf deeper because this is where we’ll be storing our garden bench cushions… it looks a bit odd without the cushions on it.

The finishing touches were a cross brace at the back to make it sturdier and of course… wax!

It’s exactly what we need and there’s even space for more stuff if needed – I think my yoga mat will fit on the top shelf as well.

After waxing I started to wonder I preferred the pale wood… but it matches the cabinet it will be sitting next to and I think the dark wood will look lovely against the new blue walls (when we paint them…).

The wood really does look gorgeous and rustic!

I bought some more wax and one piece of wood for the cross brace – but apart from that the whole thing is made from a reclaimed pallet and bits & bobs I already had.

I can’t wait to get paint on the walls and get everything back in! Did you do any bank holiday DIY?

A New Hobby

I won’t keep you in suspense… my new hobby is waxing wood!

After doing a lot of work in the garden over the last few summers: putting up a new fence, building a wall, steps & patio area and more recently putting in raised beds and creating new paths in the veg garden…. the house has been somewhat neglected and I have big decorating & DIY plans for this summer!

I’m starting with the room most desperately in need – the utility room. It’s needed redecorating for a long time but as we don’t spend much time in there it’s easy to ignore.

The first thing I need to do is sort out storage. We bought an Ikea Ivar cabinet to replace our two tatty and sagging wall units and I also had a vague plan to build some shelving alongside this using some old pallets I had lurking in the outhouse – but I wasn’t sure if the wood would be good enough.

I can confirm that pallets are very well made and quite difficult to break down! I acquired many splinters but was left with a pile of good quality (if a little rustic) wood.

Whilst digging the pallets out of the outhouse, I took the opportunity to have a tidy up and unearthed a sample pot of Annie Sloan Soft Wax.

It says it’s to be applied on top of paint, but I thought I’d give it a go directly on my pallet wood and it’s beautiful!

The piece on the left is the original wood, the centre is sanded and on the right is waxed. It still looks rustic but the finish is gorgeous – the was brings out the grain and makes it soft and smooth to touch.

I liked it so much that I thought I’d give it a try on the pine cabinet – starting with an inner shelf in case it didn’t look good!

And again… I love it! The finish is more brown than the pallet wood but they still look good together and I really like the finish.

My sample pot of soft wax was really old and it doesn’t look like it’s available to buy anymore – I think the Chalk Paint Wax is probably the equivalent. I haven’t used it as instructed at all – but it seems to be doing the job!

I’m really enjoying the process of waxing. There’s something very relaxing about spending time smoothing the wax into each piece and watching it change. Also – it smells blooming lovely!

 

Crafty Storage

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I love finding out where and how people store their yarn stash – but I would also love to know where you keep all your other crafty ‘stuff’!

DrawDisplayI think we probably all stand united in our love of small boxes, tins and purses for keeping needles, stitch markers etc – but where do you keep your medium sized stuff?

I’m rather pleased with my Ikea drawers. I painted them the same colour as the walls in my knitting room and they’re crammed full with ribbons, pom pom makers, buttons and tapestry wool.

They also came in very handy as display props at Yarndale! The individual drawers made good display boxes for my printed patterns and smaller knitted samples – I also stacked some up to create height.

I’ve always been jealous of my Dad’s garage storage, with his organised bits & bobs drawers and wall of tools.

When Dad came over in the summer to help with putting up our new fence – he arrived with some neat boxes, full of everything we needed, with nails organised by size in yoghurt pots. He probably knew that although I have lots of tools – I can never find them in my huge disorganised box of DIY ‘stuff’!

To have a house big enough to be able to hang my tools on the wall and find things would be a dream! But I do have a bit of space in my utility room and decided to was time for a sort out.

The Ikea drawers were perfect, so I bought a small set for bits & bobs and some larger ones for tools etc. I painted them with chalkboard paint, which covered really easily. I was relieved I didn’t need a second coat because the fumes nearly knocked me out! I used a liquid chalk pen, which was less messy than chalk and I think will stay put better as it needs a damp cloth to wipe it off.

It’s absolutely lovely knowing where everything is and not having to rummage! Where do you keep your crafty ‘stuff’?

Summertime!

After a busy six months of designing, it’s lovely to have a slightly quieter couple of months to do some planning for Autumn/Winter and enjoy the warmer weather!

I’ve been doing a litte spring clean of my worshops (delayed spring clean!).  Professional Finishing Techniques is one of my most popular subjects and Ted now has a new cardigan with a garter stitch border instead of moss st.

I’ve made a new Ted in Pure Wool Worsted so that shops can choose for me to teach the subject in either dk or worsted. I think he’s pretty cute in either, but I particularly like him knitted in yellow! You can download the Ted pattern for free here and the cardigan and jumper are taught at my professional finishing workshops.

I’ve also updated the Lazy Lace workshop so this is now project based and you will learn basic lace knitting whilst making a Cowl. I’m teaching this subject at Ewe Wool Shop of Stamford in September which is availble to book now.

I’m introducing a few new subjects for Autumn/Winter, including a toy knitting workshop based on my new book The Knitted Nursery Collection. Keep your eye out for dates near you!

I think it’s important to make the most of the quiet time while I can, so I’ve been tackling some jobs in the garden as well. I’m turning an old neglected bureau into a mini greenhouse, replacing a rotten fence and doing some tree surgery (chopping things back to nothing and hoping they’ll survive!).

Apparently I’m not very good at doing nothing! What jobs are you tackling this summer?

 

 

Crafty Gardening

I’ve been so busy recently working on my new book that I haven’t had much time off! But when I have – I’ve been doing a bit of crafty gardening. The recent sunshine and showers have made everything go a bit wild!

I’m planning some big jobs in the back yard this year and have made a start, but it’s currently quite messy. I will be levelling off the main flower bed (with dad’s help) And turning it into a seating area. Now that I’m working from home a lot I think it’s important to have an outside office area! I will be doing some nineties style crazy paving and will be planting thyme and camomile in the gaps to soften the edges.

My fence desperately needs replacing. There are only so many times I can saw off the rotten fence post ends and put them back in the other way round – they’re getting too short for the fence panels! A new fence will definitely improve the overall look.

I also wanted to have some lovely stepping stones leading from the door to my new seating area, but unfortunately my budget is £0! So I’ve moved some slabs to create a curved path and I’m growing various ground cover which will cover and soften the edges of the slabs (I hope).

My dad has built and installed some beautiful doors for my outhouses! They’re nearly finished and then I will be painting them in farrow &ball dix blue and putting on my lovely garden shed sign. I previously only had one door and it was rotten – so I’m really happy with these! The wood above the doors is not great but dad didnt think we could remove that without the whole structure collapsing, so he has built supporting struts and hopefully it won’t fall down!

Dad is also repairing my rotten bench which will move to the back garden when it’s sorted. Dad’s great!

In veg patch news – I’ve decided to pay attention to my brother telling me to rotate my veg! But because my patch is so small I’m just going to grow a couple of things each year. So this year is potatoes and tomatoes and next year will be beans and peas. After the success of my strawberries I’ve decided to introduce more fruit. I bought a blueberry bush that was already growing and that’s doing well – it has flowers!

I’ve had a few gardening fails as well. I planted some raspberries which are doing nothing and just look like dead twigs! I’ll leave them in just in case and dad is going to get me some from his allotment as well. So hopefully I’ll have raspberries next year.

I have a massive green fly problem with my roses which turns in a catapiller problem later in the summer. Do you know of any natural ways to deal with this? I’ve tried washing up liquid and garlic with no success.

My beautiful acer suffered a major trauma during a cat fight a few weeks ago! I think a huge ginger tom fell off the wall and landed on it. Most of the branches broke straight off and the trunk was split in two. I bandaged it together with electrical tape and it seems to be surviving – fingers crossed!

My Beautiful Ercol Armchair

When I was taking my first steps into self employment, my first aim was to create a nice environment to work in. It’s a bit less organised than it was to start with and I need to create more storage space already – but it’s so much better than it was!

I used to get stressed every time I walked in the room because there was stuff everywhere. It will always be full and a bit messy because it’s a work room – but at least now I know where everything is.

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When I decided to take the bed out of the room and use it purely as a work room, I knew I wanted a comfy chair in there!

When I have a lot of work knitting to do (sorry – still secret at the mo), I try to stand up whilst knitting. Sitting all day makes me lethargic so I stay on my feet as much as I can and even do some leg exercises if the knitting doesn’t require too much concentration!

But sometimes you just want to sit down. And sitting at a desk knitting feels a bit odd. I’m trying to resist the temptation to do all my knitting on the sofa whilst watching Buffy because that makes me feel really lazy!

So I’m very excited to have my lovely Ercol armchair back from re-furb (dad’s garage). I bought the chair on Ebay for the bargain price of £21. I’d been keeping my eye on a few, as I really wanted a pale wood one – but they seemed to be going for around £100 so I decided to get a tatty dark one with no webbing and give it a bit of TLC.

wpid-img_20150123_103547.jpgThe varnish had gone a weird green colour and one of the arms was quite worn, but apart from that it was in good condition and is beautifully made. My dad very kindly offered to sand it down and wax it for me and it’s been a labour of love. It took a while because he damaged his fingers whilst sanding down the spindly bits at the back and had to have a bit of a break from it. He’s done an amazing job! I couldn’t have imagined it looking so good and I almost don’t want to cover it with cushions.

The next job was sorting the webbing which I bought here – their service was fantastic. The website gives clear instructions on how to measure up and each piece of webbing is made to measure and individually labelled so you can see which is which (very handy if there is only a 3mm difference between straps. They also sent an A4 sheet with instructions of how to fit the webbing and tips to make it easier. It cost more than double the price of the chair – but worth it.

So the next job is making cushions! I’m going to make a foam cushion for the base and then a big squishy cushion for the back so that you can still see the top of the spindles at the back.

I love my Ercol!

 

Home sweet home

My big project for 2013 was to decorate my living room. It’s over a year since I finished the painting and it’s still work in progress!

I’ve started dedicating Sunday nights to rag rugging– so that’s starting to grow, but I think it’ll be next winter before it’s on the floor. Perhaps it was a bit ambitious?! I’ve started work on some patchwork cushions for my sofa- but I’m currently still living with my ‘temporary’ no-sew cushion!

I have however completed my curtain tie-backs! All you need is lace, starch spray, pearle cotton (or embroidery thread) and a cat (optional).

I was planning to crochet the tie backs, but my lovely neighbour gave me some lace and I thought it would be perfect. It’s made with a thick thread so it holds it’s shape quite well- but the starch has made it even more crisp. I snipped down the centre of each end and stitched the ends together to form a loop, which I then wrapped in pearle to neaten up.

It was quick, easy and cheap to do- why not have a go? A lot of haberdasheries sell lace and broderie anglaise- just make sure you pick a sturdy one that won’t just fold up and lose it’s shape.

If you want to make me feel better about my home improvement procrastinations- let me know what you planned to do this year that hasn’t been done! Maybe we can motivate each other? There’s a few weeks left yet! x